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Marius Redux: Another Danish Zoo Mulls Killing Second Giraffe

[node:summary]A second giraffe named Marius may be put down in Denmark to make way for better genes.
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As if one dead Marius weren’t enough, a second Danish zoo has announced that it may have to kill a genetically inferior giraffe that happens to have the same name.

It was strict rules about inbreeding that did the first Marius in, and now Jyllands Park zoo in western Denmark may have to kill its Marius, a seven-year-old animal, for the same reasons. This will only happen if a breeding female is acquired, according to the British news site Metro.

“Just as Copenhagen’s Marius was killed under strict rules about in-breeding, Jyllands Park’s Marius, a healthy seven-year-old, is considered unsuitable for breeding due to his genes,” Metro reported on February 12.

“Jyllands Park and Copenhagen are part of a breeding program that prohibits zoos from keeping too many animals with the same genetic makeup,” the New York Daily News explained. “Since giraffes breed well in captivity, zoos are often faced with a surplus of the animals. Although Jyllands Park only has two giraffes, Marius just doesn’t have what it takes to make the cut.”

The first Marius, just 18 months old, was put down by the Copenhagen Zoo on February 9, dissected for educational purposes—in front of children—and then fed to the lions. A global outcry ensued.

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Not everyone is horrified at the move, however. Numerous commenters on news and social media sites pointed out that zoos worldwide probably do such things all the time; that similar acts, such as deer culling, occur regularly; and that lions in fact eat giraffes in the wild—and would have been fed some kind of raw meat if not Marius.

Moreover, European zoos regularly euthanize animals for various reasons as part of their mandate to “preserve species, not individual animals,” the Associated Press reported. The more common method in U.S. zoos is contraception, AP said, but that impedes the animals’ quality of life. 

That said, even the zookeeper at Jyllands is hoping it will not come to that for the second Marius, who is living happily alongside the zoo's other giraffe. 

"At the moment, they are doing very well and are keeping each other company, but if there are some genetically more valuable giraffes in the program that need the space, we have to decide what to do with him," Zoologist Jesper Mohring-Jensen told the Daily News. "We will of course try to place him in a suitable zoo, but if that is not possible, we might have to euthanize him. The program will give us notice well in advance, so I think we will have a good chance of placing him.”