Marius – the ‘surplus’ giraffe

Today I became aware of the  tragic story of a healthy 18 month old giraffe, named Marius. Marius was viciously killed – with a bullet to the head – as young children and animal rights protestors looked on before he was castrated and fed to the lions. The inhumane treatment of this giraffe was carried out for the most stupid and unethical reasons I have ever heard. One being due to surplus quantities of giraffes in Copenhagen zoo.


Marius the young giraffe
Marius the young giraffe

Marius was bred in Copenhagen zoo in Denmark and according to Bengt Holst, the zoo’s scientific director, he told Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet Marius needed to be killed to prevent inbreeding and to keep the giraffe population down. This is absolutely outrages, if the zoo was responsible for breeding Marius in the first place it should be their responsibility to care for him or find him a new home instead of taking the easy option. The zoo had said on its website that it had no choice but to put Marius down. Under the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) rules, inbreeding between giraffes is to be avoided. Although Marius is healthy, his genes are already well represented at the zoo and apparently it would have ben against the law for Marius to be taken in by the other 300 other EAZA-affiliated zoos. What is worse is that a Swedish zoo not associated with the EAZA offered to take Marius into their breeding programme as they needed another male – evidently Copenhagen zoo declined this offer and went ahead with their initial plan for Marius.

The giraffe’s impending death sparked outrage online, with more than 5,000 people signing a “Save Marius” Facebook petition. More than 3,000 people signed a similar Danish-language online petition and nearly 24,000 signed an English-language version.

Marius after he had been shot.
Marius after he had been shot.

Mr Holst said “in principle” there should be no difference between how a large exotic animal and a rat are treated. But the Marius’ case has sparked anger from animal welfare groups. Mr Holst told the BBC it was a responsible practice on the part of zoos to manage their animal populations and that he could not understand the fuss over Marius.

What is the most disgusting aspect to this inhuman act was how Marius’s death was to be carried out. Marius’ death was a spectacle. Marius was killed in front of young children, families and protestors at the zoo by a bolt gun to the head before he was chopped up and fed to the lions! He was killed with a gun instead of a legal injection because the zoo keepers didn’t want to contaminate the meat which they could feed to other carnivores in the zoo.

The body of Marius was fed to the lions after his death.
The body of Marius was fed to the lions after his death.

If this is the barbaric behaviour that goes on yearly in zoos all over Europe I for one will never set foot in a zoo again. Here is a short video about Marius the giraffe and his death. Warning-  this video is graphic.


  1. 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:

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