An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion

Friday, 14 February 2014

Would You Take Your Child to Watch An Animal Being Killed?

My title only tells half the story. The full story involves a zoo, a gun followed by a skinning session of the animal shot and then a feeding frenzy whereby the animal's remains are fed to the lions. Would you let your child watch all this? I certainly would NOT but that is what happened this week when a doe-eyed giraffe called Marius was shot dead at a Copenhagen Zoo by people who work in the zoo. The event was publicised beforehand as some sort of learning experience for children and families turned up to watch this revolting cruel spectacle.
I make a value judgment by referring to the incident as being a 'revolting cruel spectacle' because there is no other sensible explanation for killing a healthy 18-month old giraffe within the safe confines of a zoo. I would have thought that a zoo would be a place of care and compassion where the animals residing there would be looked after in all ways -fed, watered, monitored and given medical aid when needed. Killing does not fall into any of these categories.

Judging from the explanation given by the zoo I would be considered idealistic and naive in my thinking.  According to the zoo Marius's genes were too similar, i.e too common, to those of other giraffes in a breeding programme run by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). Apparently, breeding closely related animals increases the chances that two harmful copies of an animal gene will pair up somewhere along the way.

The mission of EAZA is: “EAZA’s mission is to facilitate co-operation within the European zoo and aquarium community with the aim of furthering its professional quality in keeping animals and presenting them for the education of the public, and of contributing to scientific research and to the conservation of global biodiversity. It will achieve these aims through stimulation, facilitation and co-ordination of the community’s efforts in education, conservation and scientific research, through the enhancement of co-operation with all relevant organisations and through influencing relevant legislation within the EU.” (EAZA Strategy 2009-2012)

Well, blow me down but I cannot see any veiled or blatant reference to 'killing' in that mission. However, the death of Marius has been supported by EAZA so it is not immediately blatant how this can be so. An EAZA spokesman told the BBC news that Marius would not have added anything further to the breeding programme that does not already exist.

When you go to the zoo do you worry about the gene pool of the animals you see? Do you worry about what their offspring would look like? I don't think many people would. People go to the zoo to admire animals and to watch them in safety. This whole breeding programme, to me, smacks of Science gone loopy, to use a really colloquial term of expression over a very frustrating incident. I have a child and I don't think that she would need to watch the live killing and a subsequent animal feeding frenzy to ace it in Biology.

Putting my rebel hat on I suspect that the whole incident was a profit inducing one - draw the crowds in and raise profit. Another giraffe also called Marius is in danger of being killed for the exact same reason. The President of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been accused of human right abuses has offered to buy this second Marius to save it. There's always a twist to surreal stories and I do hope that Ramzan Kadyrov succeeds and spreads his compassion for animals to humans.

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