Marius, a male giraffe, lies dead before being dissected, after he was put down at Copenhagen Zoo on Sunday. Copenhagen Zoo turned down offers from other zoos and 500,000 euros ($680,000) from a private individual to save the life of a healthy giraffe before killing and slaughtering it Sunday to follow inbreeding recommendations made by a European association.     Photo: Peter Hove Olesen/AP

Zoo Giraffe Killed, Dismembered, Fed to Lions

Crowds of children watch

A healthy 18-month-old giraffe named Marius was killed point-blank and then chopped up for the lions on Sunday at Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark. Despite several online petitions—garnering nearly 27,000 signatures from around the globe—to save him, Marius was put down to prevent inbreeding, according to zoo officials.

Copenhagen Zoo does not promote castration to manage populations within zoo enclosures, selecting instead to kill "surplus offspring." Representatives say this mimics the animals' natural life.

Although a Swedish zoo begged to save Marius and one billionaire offered to buy him for several million dollars, the giraffe was killed, cut apart, and fed to lions in front of a crowd of onlookers that included small children.

While Americans supplied the most signatures on the petitions to save Marius, in Denmark the event was not seen as unusual. In a society with few animal-rights activists, the keeping and killing of animals is widely accepted, reports Peter Sandoee, a professor of bioethics at the University of Copenhagen. Public animal dissections are also popular in Denmark and regularly see upwards of 7,000 paying attendees.