The Killing of Marius the Giraffe Was Easily Avoidable


The internet is lighting up with outrage today upon news that the Copenhagen Zoo – a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums  (WAZA) – have publicly staged the killing, dissection and lion feeding of a young giraffe named Marius which they had declared “surplus.” The 18 month old giraffe was approaching maturity and the Zoo claimed that he was excess as his breeding would have complicated blood lines at the zoo.

Within a short period of time a petition circulated with over 25,000 signatures, international media coverage erupted and there are reports of last ditch efforts by other zoos to offer re location. Other simple options – like neutering Marius – were deemed “inhumane” by the Copenhagen Zoo who in that situation would have had to feed and shelter an animal that could not grow their “stock.”

News of Marius’s death travelled fast via social media with a wide array of photos depicting the various stages of his death – from the bolt gun used to kill him, an audience being led through his dissection and his carcass being fed to lions at the zoo. All of the photos disturbing in how the audience normalizes and calmly snaps cell phone pictures what they are watching – including young children.

Some detractors have tried to push back against this outrage by shifting goalposts to make the killing appear inevitable – stating that lions would kill giraffes in the wild, or that this should be thought of as no different than any other animal slaughter (cows, pigs, chickens). Both points carry some truth, but only when argued from the realization that all of these animals have their entire lives controlled by humans. In the wild Marius would have a social community, and the ability to access skills to retreat. In captivity – this decision – as with his birth, was all made for him. That this zoo was able to monetize his birth, as well as his death, is the crux of outrage for many. SImilarly, claiming that this practice is justifiable, or inevitable, as we treat other animal species the same way in greater numbers only speaks to the size and scale of animal use. A kind of tautology – this circular logic leads us nowhere. Two wrongs simply cannot make a right.

The timing of the slaughter comes at an unfortunate time for WAZA – an organization currently embattled in controversy over it’s economic support for wild capture and the Taiji dolphin hunt in Japan. In absurd fashion, WAZA recently released a statement trying to distance itself from that hunt although the captive animal industry, and the price paid for captive dolphins, continues to drive the practice. The veil of “conservation and education” is quickly being lifted and WAZA is struggling to respond. Marius’s death, which advocates have already tied to WAZA, will escalate this. The individual stories of “Angel” the albino dolphin and Marius the giraffe won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

The most important point to remember though is that all of these situations are avoidable. They are problems which we constructed and they are problems which we can dismantle. Although the pictures out of Copenhagen are chilling – they point to the social dynamic of accepting these practices as normal, educational, or inevitable. One comment I’ve seen online called it “the circle of life” – the attempt to shroud a completely unnatural and controlled process as “natural.” It is anything but. We have a responsibility to protest if we want to change that.


@dylanxpowell /


13 responses to “The Killing of Marius the Giraffe Was Easily Avoidable

  1. Dylan I love reading your emails. You express in words exactly what I feel so beautifully and succinctly. Thank you.

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. We can only hope that through his death that the Copenhagen Zoo, as well as any other zoo that culls the animals that it breeds, will learn that the public will not stand for these acts.

  3. How horrible and traumatizing for living beings and humans ! Living and dying as a slave in a zoo is not normally considered the “circle of life” . I expect many people will be scarred from witnessing this horrid spectacle . This zoo is barbaric and should be fined and investigated for treating a life so ruthlessly !

  4. Copenhagen zoo staff are teaching kids its ok to kill wildlife animals cuz space contraint. The kids will grow up and euthanise all their old fogies because of space contraint. Just you wait Copenhageners, what goes round will come around.

  5. Zoos are business, and they want to make a profit.
    Most of the animal species kept at zoos are not even endangered. It’s spectacle, amusement, staring at the ‘others’.
    Killing of surplus animals (those who are not fit for further breeding) happens routinely at zoos, this is just one instance in which they made a spectacle of it.
    And I don’t believe in their argument of the educational aspect of zoos neither: if it teaches children anything is that is is ok to put an animal behind bars for the rest of his life, kill the ones we don’t want and feed their bodies to the others 😦
    RIP Marius …

  6. The zoo bred him. It is their fault that hes gene lines were faulty. They had a duty of care to Marius. To kill him and in these types of abhorrent and barbaric circumstances is beyond comprehension. Is this the 21st Century or What??? This whole cruel spectacle was unnecessary. Marius could have been rehomed. Someone needs to be held accountable for this.

  7. Before I saw anything on FB, I listened to a BBC Radio 4 news bulletin at 07:00 yesterday, as driving to airport, which interviewed someone from a wild life centre in Yorkshire, they were offering Marius a home with other older male giraffes. He said he would settle well with them and be cared for by older males, with no females to cause tension. I wonder why this option was not taken?!

  8. This Zoo must be shut down! For Animal sufferings and exposing children to this kind of brutality! This is monstrous! How dare they!!

  9. His sacrifice not be in vain…

    Marius is dead. Marius has been dead…
    Marius has been killed by human beast[1].
    Motiveless. Pointless. Grotesque. Sad.
    Blood from north to south, from west to east…

    Cruelty dirties the Earth with innocent blood
    showing zoos have no reason to exist:
    they are pain to death that spreads in flood.
    Marius is an hero who invites us to resist.

    Marius is another why to close all the zoos
    squalid recesses of the human intolerance[2]
    anachronistic jails, against Nature abuse!
    Witnesses of abysmal, persistent ignorance…

    Notes available here:

  10. Pingback: Eat My Shorts | Skeptical Vegan·

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