Why Danes are not shocked by giraffe-killing

Marius the giraffe was dissected in front of crowds at Copenhagen zoo on Sunday. Credit: REUTERS/Kasper Palsnov

A zoo in western Denmark is reportedly considering putting down a seven-year-old giraffe called Marius, over fears it will fight with a male rival over a female giraffe.

The news comes just a few days after a healthy giraffe - also called Marius - at Copenhagen Zoo was killed to avoid inbreeding among the long-necked beasts there, the zoo said on Monday.

But while the international media has been shocked over the killing and public autopsy of “Marius” on Sunday, the reaction in Denmark has been muted.

That few Danes are up in arms over "Marius-gate" is linked to the fact that the country was only urbanised quite recently, says Peter Sandoee, a professor of bioethics at the University ofCopenhagen.

"When animals are killed for a sensible reason,for example as in this case because males cannot get along, most Danes take areasonably relaxed approach", he told ITV News.

"For most Danes the key issue is not whether animals are killed but whether they are treated well while they're alive, otherwise it would be difficult to justify the use of animals for food."

Professor Sandoee believes zoos should mirror nature, where only a fraction of animals survive and criticizes what he callsthe "Disneyfication" of zoos.

"In the U.K and America, many people seem to have a very romantic image of zoo animals - they are viewed almost as fellow citizens. In Denmark many people find that approach hard to understand. And from the point of view of nature conservation, that perspective certainly does not make sense."