Officials says the death threats zoo in Denmark started after the staff killed a 2-year-old giraffe and fed its remains to lions on Feb. 9. Tobias Stenbaek Bro, a zoo spokesman, said their telephones and emails are non-stop.
The zoo’s scientific director, Bengt Holst, told Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladetis that he’s also receiving threats. They quoted one email as saying: “The children of the staff of Copenhagen Zoo should all be killed or should get cancer.”
Prior to the death threats zoo, the giraffe, Marius, was killed Sunday using a bolt pistol at the Copenhagen Zoo, then skinned and fed to lions in front of visitors, including children. The killing triggered a wave of online protests and debate about zoo conditions. There was also a campaign to save the young giraffe before it was killed.
Marius was killed despite the pleas of thousands who signed online petitions to save him. He was given his favorite breakfast of rye bread and then shot.
After an autopsy, some meat from Marius’s carcass was fed to other zoo animals and some was sent to research projects in Denmark and abroad for study.
Camilla Bergvall, vice chairwoman of Animal Rights Sweden, said it was common for zoos to kill healthy animals because they were not suitable for breeding, the zoo lacked room for them or there was little public interest in them.
“Zoos have to think about their revenues,” she said. “It is important to understand that this is not just about Marius. It happens quite often that healthy animals are killed.”
Bergvall said keeping species in zoos caused the individual animals to suffer. Breeding animals for captivity created the limited gene pool problem that led to Marius’s death.
“The best thing is not to breed animals for people to look at,” she said.
The zoo said it killed Marius to prevent inbreeding, and it defended the public feeding as a display of scientific knowledge about animals.
The death threats zoo is one debate that will be around for a long time.