Two alarming animal things happened over the weekend, and the conflation of the dual mendacities against human nature leads us to recognize we are not really a wholly civilized world where the weaker among us in the animal world are cared for and protected as we expect them to care for us.

First, Marius, a two-year-old Reticulated Giraffe, was killed by the Copenhagen Zoo — the very entity vested and sworn to protect him — and he was fed to lions because Marius’ genetic stream wasn’t special enough to earn continued living:

The cause of death was a shotgun blast, and after a public autopsy, the animal, who was 11 feet 6 inches, was fed to the zoo’s lions and other big cats.

Administrators said they had decided to kill Marius, who was in good health, because his genes were well represented among the captive giraffe population in European zoos. But that explanation did not satisfy animal rights activists who had mounted a furious last-minute campaign to save him.

I understand animal lives and human lives are provided various niches of importance and meaning, and the more special you are, the better chance you have of propagating yourself into the future; but I think the universal outrage over Marius’ untimely death is the tone and method in which the zoo decided to kill him and leave him for dead.

If the zoo really wanted a spectacle, why not just put Marius alive in the lion’s den and let nature take its course?  Isn’t that more true to the nature of nature to let nature attack instead of giving Marius a shotgun blast to the head and dumping his carcass in a pen?

Why take the easy way out with gunpowder?  Let the lions have at him alive, and invite all the children in Copenhagen to watch the spectacle live from a ringside seat. Make sure to give them towels to wipe away the blood and tissues to dab at their young tears.

I can tell you I wouldn’t want to give much support to the Copenhagen Zookeepers who killed Marius.  They’re in it for the easiest path that won’t lessen their day, and not the proper, if not rougher, higher moral road.  It’s disappointing that Marius’ keepers believe “dominion” means “kill.”

In New York City, the cruelty news doesn’t get much better as cops broke up a Cockfighting ring of 3,000 animals in Jamaica, Queens:

Five people were charged after investigators raided a bloody late-night cockfight in the squalid basement of a vacant Queens storefront where birds waiting for later rounds were kept in sacks hanging from the walls, officials said on Sunday.

The raid, conducted on Saturday and led by investigators from the New York State attorney general’s office, smashed a cockfighting ring that held brutal fight nights in the basement twice a month, witnesses and officials said. Investigators also arrested a Brooklyn pet shop owner who they said had taken birds to the fights in Woodhaven, Queens, near the Brooklyn border. Then on Sunday, investigators stormed a farm in Plattekill, N.Y., about 150 miles northwest of New York City in upstate Ulster County, where they said birds had been raised and trained. They said they found more than 3,000 birds in cages there.

In all three places, investigators said, they found birds that had been altered to inflict maximum damage in the ring. Court documents said that in the basement in Queens, 65 roosters were found with their natural spurs clipped off and with sharper metal spurs attached to their bodies. In all, eight of those arrested were charged with felonies.

We are momentarily outraged by cockfights in our backyards and by the killing of a young giraffe in a faraway place — yet the wounding and the hurt we claim never seems to last very long, and that hurts all of us in the long run.

Sure, the next Justin Bieber story will momentarily break and help us feel better about ourselves, and less about Marius and his feathered brothers, but what so many of us fail to confess is that we’re all Marius, tarred in feathers with sharpened spurs waiting to attack — never defend! — as we bide our time waiting for DNA results to tell us if we’ve earned another day of caged misery, or if we’re finally going to be set free with a shotgun blast to the brain and then fed to our nearest, most natural, captors in waiting.


  1. How soon before we become like Marius, unwanted because of a gene pool that’s already crowded and well represented – just average? This story horrified me when I first read it yesterday. You raise very valid points!

    1. Right! Substitute “bank account” for “gene pool” — and in many ways, I think we’re already there — actively thinning the herd of the Have Alls and the Have Nothings!

        1. Yes, and many don’t even realize they’re just sitting around, waiting to be eaten alive.

          If they cared, they’d be much more politically active to save their lives and preserve the common standard.

  2. There are plenty of places that would have welcomed that Giraffe – needless to say I will have nothing to do with Copenhagen Zoo or any future campaign it runs. Cock fighting is just as vile , along with fog fighting, bear baiting and other disgusting things humans do to animals.

    You have already covered the thinning the herd aspect applied to humans above – it is actively happening in the UK as well and probably in most other countries to a certain extent. Horrible to think what the world is coming to.

    1. I agree it was selfish to keep Marius just to kill him instead of gifting him to another zoo or somehow letting him roam free somewhere. There’s zero realization on the part of the Copenhagen Zoo as to what reality they’ve created with his killing — they just don’t care.

      The Herd Thins even more in the USA this week with the GOP refusal to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed:

      Here’s Paul Krugman’s excellent take this morning:

      If you follow debates over unemployment, it’s striking how hard it is to find anyone on the Republican side even hinting at sympathy for the long-term jobless. Being unemployed is always presented as a choice, as something that only happens to losers who don’t really want to work. Indeed, one often gets the sense that contempt for the unemployed comes first, that the supposed justifications for tough policies are after-the-fact rationalizations.

      The result is that millions of Americans have in effect been written off — rejected by potential employers, abandoned by politicians whose fuzzy-mindedness is matched only by the hardness of their hearts.

  3. Thanks for raising awareness on these issues. It is hard to read these stories but the more people who know the better. I don’t like the entire concept of a zoo, I never have …I can watch video’s of animals living naturally in the wild if I want to learn more about them, never understood how we “learn” from captivity

    1. I, too, am against zoos. I know many will argue they preserve the animals and keep them safe, and I always wonder why their preservation ends in our alleged entertainment and begins with the loss of their freedom?

      There are horrible things that happen to animals every day, and awareness helps — and in Marius’ killing, a lot of good should flow from his bloody corpse.

    1. It was hard for me to write about the lions — and insert that image!

      You’re right that the blatant inconsideration some of us have for those who depends on us is just inhuman.

  4. Wanted to reply on the comments of the usefulness of Zoos. I believe they serve two important goals:

    – Education in its broader sense. Cities grow larger with little access to nature for many children (think big European cities). Should children (or even adults) just see / believe what is shown on television? Yes, it is highly imperfect but I am pretty sure we have all been touched by the beauty of some of these animals and gained respect that mother nature is quite formidable.
    Schools organize trips to Zoos and it is a chance for young children to learn and see about the animal kingdom. I bring my children. They feed animals. They get to see things you might simply never see in your life aside from on TV. We can gain respect of natures if we go to the Zoo with the right state of mind.

    – Preservation. Don’t under-estimate the formidable work done across the world to protect and raise awareness of endangered species. Zoos (and aquariums) are where some of the most passionate people about nature and animal protection are working. And yes, they manage resources, DNA pools. This is very clinical but the quality of their work and future of some species rely on it.

    Now on the decision to kill the Giraffe…

    I invite everybody to listen to the interview of the scientific director from the Copenhagen Zoo on NPR (

    Honestly, if his purpose was to make a strong case, he failed.

    I will summarize my opinion: there might be many very valid and rational reasons for their decisions, but they missed the opportunity to remain truthful to their most important pillar: animals protection. They should have continued to look further until they can find a place for this animal.

    1. Here’s is PETA’s take on zoos:

      In general, zoos and wildlife parks preclude or severely restrict natural behavior, such as flying, swimming, running, hunting, climbing, scavenging, foraging, digging, exploring, and selecting a partner. The physical and mental frustrations of captivity often lead to abnormal, neurotic, and even self-destructive behavior, such as incessant pacing, swaying, head-bobbing, bar-biting, and self-mutilation.

      Even large, well-known, and popular zoos engage in unscrupulous practices, such as dumping unwanted animals or taking animals from the wild. In 2003, the San Diego Zoo and Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo captured and imported 11 African elephants from Swaziland. In 2006, accredited zoos in Denver; Houston; Litchfield Park, Arizona; San Antonio; San Diego; and Tampa, Florida, imported 33 monkeys who had been illegally trafficked by poachers in Africa, rather than working with wildlife rehabilitators to return the primates to their natural habitat.

      Proponents of zoos like to claim that zoos protect species from extinction—seemingly a noble goal. However, wild-animal parks and zoos almost always favor large and charismatic animals who draw large crowds of visitors, but they neglect less popular species that also need to be protected. Most animals in zoos are not endangered, and while confining animals to zoos keeps them alive, it does nothing to protect wild populations and their habitats.

    1. There has to be a better way than this.

      The Copenhagen zoo does make an interesting point:

      “I know the giraffe is a nice looking animal, but I don’t think there would have been such an outrage if it had been an antelope, and I don’t think anyone would have lifted an eyebrow if it was a pig,” said Bengt Holst, Copenhagen Zoo’s scientific director, per the AP.

      Sad, but true.

      1. I suspect that less “attractive” animals get slaughtered every day and quietly feed the rest of the incarcerated carnivores. I know a lot of snakes require a steady diet of baby chickens , rats, mice etc.

        Having said that – the zoo bred these animals – knowing what their genes were – if they do not want their genes don’t let them breed and save all this suffering.

        1. I agree there needs to be a way to avoid these unnecessary mistakes. If you don’t want the giraffe in the gene pool, then fix the living animal so it cannot procreate, but still enjoy living and not needed to meet an early death. We understand the circle of life. We don’t need to visit it live in person at the zoo.

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