September 2, 2014
Zoo staff receive threats after giraffe killing
Copenhagen Zoo's scientific director and other staff have received death threats after a healthy giraffe was killed to avoid inbreeding among the long-necked beasts there, the zoo said.
But director Bengt Holst said it was the right decision and he would be ready to do the same with another animal if needed.
The death of Marius, an 18-month-old male shot yesterday and then dissected in front of crowds at the zoo, has created a uproar among animal lovers in Denmark and abroad.
"I got direct threats against the zoo, me and my family," Holst said. One caller who telephoned in the middle of the night told him that he and his family deserved to die.
A zoo spokesman said other staffers had also been threatened but gave no further details.
Copenhagen Zoo's giraffes are part of an international breeding programme that aims to maintain a healthy giraffe population in European zoos by ensuring that only unrelated giraffes breed.
"If an animal's genes are well represented in a population, further breeding with that particular animal is unwanted," Holst said. "We could face the same problem with an elephant if there are too many males."