The Slatest

Danish Zoo Kills Young Giraffe, Invites Children to Watch It Be Chopped Up, Fed to Lions

Picture taken on Febuary 7, 2014 shows a perfectly healthy young giraffe named Marius who was shot dead and autopsied in the presence of visitors

Photo by KELD NAVNTOFT/AFP/Getty Images

A zoo in Copenhagen has sparked outrage after it ignored an intense online campaign and went ahead with its plan to kill Marius, a healthy 18-month-old giraffe. He was put down with a bolt gun Sunday as a crowd that included many small children looked on. Marius was then chopped up and fed to lions and other carnivores at the zoo. Officials at the zoo said that while they understood the protests, they had no choice because the giraffe was part of an international breeding program that prohibits inbreeding. Although he was healthy, his genes were already over-represented at the zoo, notes the AFP.

Although other zoos offered to take in Marius, and one person even offered to buy him, the zoo would only be able to transfer him to an institution that was part of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. Other alternatives, like contraceptives and neutering are considered cruel because they can have undesirable side effects, the zoo’s scientific director, Bengt Holst, tells Time.

After Marius was killed, technicians invited parents and their children to watch an autopsy that was performed for research purposes. Many watched the three-hour-long procedure from beginning to end, which to the zoo spokesman demonstrates that the institution fulfilled its goal of being a place of scientific knowledge, reports the Associated Press

The Lions in Copenhagen Zoo eat Marius’ remains

Photo by KASPER PALSNOV/AFP/Getty Images