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GRAPHIC WARNING - Danish zoo kills young giraffe to avoid inbreeding

Marius the giraffe is pictured in Copenhagen Zoo February 7, 2014. The Copenhagen Zoo went ahead with a plan to shoot and dismember a healthy giraffe on Sunday and feed the 18-month-old animal's carcass to lions.

Credits: REUTERS/Keld Navntoft/Scanpix Denmark

QMI AGENCY

A healthy, two-year-old giraffe was killed by a Danish zoo Sunday, and some of its remains were fed to lions.

Marius was killed by a shot in the head with a bolt gun by officials at Copenhagen Zoo, which says the animal had to be put down because of European laws on inbreeding, England's Guardian newspaper reported.

Live footage of Marius' body being dissected by zoo workers while a crowd, which included children, watched was streamed by Ekstra Bladet, a Danish website. An announcer guided the crowd through the process and fielded questions.

"We know we are doing the right thing," Bengt Holst, the zoo's scientific director, told Danish TV2. "The many reactions don't change our attitude to what we do. It's very important to us that we take responsibility throughout. We need to have as healthy a stock as possible so we avoid inbreeding.

Several zoos, including England's Yorkshire Wildlife Park, offered to adopt Marius but Copenhagen Zoo said sending him to another zoo would also risk problems of inbreeding. It said Marius's genes were already well represented among giraffes at the zoo

Maria Evans, who spearheaded an online campaign to save Marius, said, "The zoo has raised him so it is their responsibility to find him a home, no matter how long it takes. They must not be allowed to take the easy option."

By Saturday, nearly 28,000 people had signed her petition.


WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS

People look on as a veterinarian prepares to dismember the giraffe Marius after it was killed in Copenhagen Zoo February 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Kasper Palsnov/Scanpix Denmark)

People look at the carcass of the giraffe Marius after it was killed in Copenhagen Zoo February 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Kasper Palsnov/Scanpix Denmark)

Veterinarians cut apart the carcass of the giraffe Marius after it was killed in Copenhagen Zoo February 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Kasper Palsnov/Scanpix Denmark)

People look on as a veterinarian cuts apart the giraffe Marius after it was killed in Copenhagen Zoo February 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Kasper Palsnov/Scanpix Denmark)

People look on as a veterinarian holds a leg of the giraffe Marius while it was being dismembered in Copenhagen Zoo February 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Kasper Palsnov/Scanpix Denmark)

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