Second giraffe called Marius faces euthanasia in Denmark

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 February, 2014, 9:04pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 February, 2014, 9:22pm

If you are a giraffe and your name is Marius, now might be a good time to leave Denmark.

Days after the euthanasia of a healthy young giraffe at Copenhagen zoo sparked controversy around the world, a second Danish zoo has announced it is considering a similar fate for another giraffe - also named Marius.

If we are told that we have to euthanise Marius, we would do that

Jyllands Park zoo, in western Denmark, currently has two male giraffes, but has been approved to participate in the European breeding programme.

If zookeepers acquire a female giraffe, seven-year-old Marius will have to make way.

Like his namesake in Copenhagen, the giraffe is considered unsuitable for breeding, and the zoo said there was a high risk that Marius would have to be put down as it would be difficult to find him a new home.

Janni Lojtved Poulsen, zookeeper at Jyllands Park, said it was not clear when the park would acquire a female giraffe and that the decision on Marius' future would be taken by the breeding programme co-ordinator.

But she added: "If we are told that we have to euthanise Marius we would, of course, do that."

She said the park managers would not to be influenced by the protests that followed the killing of 18-month-old Marius at Copenhagen zoo.

More than 27,000 people around the world signed a petition to save the Copenhagen giraffe, and zoo officials received death threats after the animal was put down, dissected in front of a large crowd and fed to lions.

"It doesn't affect us in any way. We are completely behind Copenhagen and would have done the same," said Poulsen.

Jyllands Park zoo officials have not decided whether they would also carry out a public dissection.

Poulsen said she was surprised to find there was a second giraffe called Marius in Denmark.

The Jyllands Park giraffe was named after a former vet at the zoo, she said. "We thought it was amusing that there was another Marius among the giraffes when there aren't that many giraffes in Denmark overall."

Copenhagen zoo's scientific director, Bengt Holst, said their animals were not given names to avoid any "personification".

"The zoo keepers sometimes call the animals names, and then our guests have heard the name Marius, and that has then become the individual Marius," Holst said. "But in no way is it an official name it has been given."