Animal Emotions

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Marius the Giraffe: Zoo Should Have Covered up Killing Him

This would have been okay according to Peter Dickinson.

The story of Marius, the young and healthy giraffe who was killed at the Copenhagen Zoo as if he were a worthless object because he didn't fit into their breeding program, has generated global interest and outrage among a wide-ranging audience, including some who otherwise support zoos (see, for example this essay and). In many ways Marius's demise motivated a paradigm shift in how people viewed zoos and in getting people to actively protest their killing ways. Killing "surplus animals" is a common practice in zoos

The zoo should have covered up killing Marius

I just received an email about Marius in which Peter Dickinson ridicules those who were offended by his murder. In his blog about Marius, and after ignoring alternative ways to have spared Marius's life and neglecting that a wildlife park had offered to take Marius, Mr. Dickinson writes, "I still support Copenhagen's decision. Perhaps though they should have just gone ahead and did the deed one early morning before the zoo opened to visitors." Oh my, isn't this a convenient way to get away with murder? And, what a horrific lesson for youngsters and others -- cover up the dirty deed and move on as if nothing happened. Thank goodness Marius's death was not done behind closed doors. 

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I highly recommend that you read this brief defense of Marius's death because it's clear that there still are people out there who think it's just fine to kill other animals as if they are worthless and unfeeling things. Frankly, Mr. Dickinson's blog sickened me and I've already had some emails that expressed deep concern about his views.

Once again, "The Marius Effect" is far more wide-ranging than many thought it would be and it provides much food for thought and debate among those interested in anthrozoology, the study of human-animal relationships. Covering it up would have been an egregious and self-serving move and would have been totally disrespectful to Marius, who paid with his life because he couldn't be a money-making breeding machine. 

The teaser image can be seen here, where we learn that the Jyllands Park Zoo, also in Denmark, will not kill another giraffe named Marius despite earlier reports that they were planning to do so. 

Marc Bekoff's latest books are Jasper's story: Saving moon bears (with Jill Robinson; see also), Ignoring nature no more: The case for compassionate conservation (see also)and Why dogs hump and bees get depressed (see also).

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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