Most species of giraffes aren’t considered endangered, but if you are a giraffe named Marius living in a Danish zoo, your days are probably numbered. Shortly after Copenhagen Zoo killed Marius, a young and healthy giraffe, Jyllands Park Zoo announced that it not only also has a giraffe named Marius, but that it is considering killing this giraffe as well.
The outrage over the first Marius’s death had hardly subsided when Jyllands Park, a zoo in the western part of Denmark, acknowledged similar intentions. According to zoo officials, a plan to breed giraffes on the premises would mean that Marius is no longer welcome since he lacks desirable genes.
At the moment, Marius lives at the Jyllands Park Zoo as a platonic companion to a fellow male giraffe. Zookeepers consider this other giraffe to have more diverse DNA, making him better suited for reproducing. If and when a female is brought in, Marius will have to be either relocated to another zoo or executed. After seven years in captivity, zookeepers say Marius would not survive if introduced to the wild.
“We will of course try to place him in a suitable zoo,” said Jesper Mohring-Jensen, a zoologist at Jyllands Park. “But if that is not possible, we might have to euthanize him.”
Many animal lovers rightfully object to the term “euthanize” in this instance. Since Marius is not suffering, putting him down would be an act of convenience rather than kindness.
Others are worried about Jyllands Park’s commitment to finding Marius a home, particularly since another zookeeper delivered a conflicting message. “We are completely behind Copenhagen and would have done the same,” said Janni Løjtved Poulsen. She added that her zoo would not be influenced if a similar protest movement were to emerge around this Marius.
Part of the controversy surrounding the now-deceased Marius is that he was shot in the head and then dissected in front of an audience of families and children for entertainment/education. Representatives for Jyllands Park say they are not yet sure whether they would take a similar course of action if it were to kill their own Marius.
The repetitive scenario begs another question – in a country with multiple words for “blonde”, why is there only one name for a giraffe? The fact that there are (or were) two Marius-es seems to be a coincidence. Marius is a common name in Denmark. Though the name literally means “male” in Latin, more recently the name seems to signify a death sentence.
Since Jyllands Park has no immediate arrangements to bring in a female, Marius will be safe at least for the short term. Given the number of international zoos that stepped forward to offer to adopt Cophenagen’s Marius, hopefully a successful transfer can be arranged when that time comes.
You can help put the pressure on Jyllands Park to spare Marius’s life by signing this petition. If the zoo sees just how many animal lovers are outraged by the death of a giraffe, it may go above and beyond the Copenhagen Zoo in order to avoid a swelling of negative publicity.