A useless life is only an early death.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
This has never been more true than in the case of Marius.
Recently, I was going through my emails and I received an update from National Geographic with their latest news for the week. There was small link to an article about how a zoo in Denmark euthanised a healthy, 18 month old giraffe. I was shocked at the time, but didn’t get to look into it.
Today, while chatting about random stuff with my mom and sister, I happened to remember this bit of news and I told them about it. They were as astounded as I was, so we decided to read up on it. And then we wished we hadn’t, because it destroyed all promise of a good morning for us.
As it turns out, the giraffe, whose name was Marius, was killed for no other reason than sheer laziness. On one day, a zookeeper, as per the official decision, shot Marius in the neck as he bent down to eat his favourite snack. They then autopsied Marius’s body in public, in front of small children and families. Afterwards, the carcass was fed to the lions.
The zoo can, of course, give a number of so called valid reasons for this. The main one seems to be fear of inbreeding, as Marius was apparently a “surplus” giraffe. Therefore, he took up too much space and resources. They refused to relocate Marius despite receiving offers from other zoos. If you’re wondering why they decided to dismember the giraffe in front of kids, they said it was “educative” and that “zoos have an obligation “not to make nature into a Disney World,” but rather show those interested in “the real thing.” ” So much for PG-13 movies.
This nauseating incident just goes to show how far capitalism has permeated culture. A zoo is a place where we celebrate the variety of life and respect the beauty of the natural world, not breed animals for profit and callously throw away their lives when they outlive their use. Is this what we want children to learn? That life is something to be disposed of as we please? That commercial usefulness or genetic purity is the only purpose of life?
As for calling this the real thing, nowhere in nature, except in mankind, do you see anything wasted. No animal kills without good reason, except humankind. No animal would consider another life useless. They cannot make the lame excuse that Marius’s ultimate fate would have been to be food for the lions if he had lived on the savannah. In the wild, animals can run and defend themselves, and lions cannot easily take down a full grown male giraffe. In the zoo, however, with people he trusted, Marius never had a chance.
The idea that we should kill when a living being outlives its use opens up so many possibilities to us, don’t you think? We could stop spending money on old age homes and the government could stop giving pensions, because we could just euthanise the elderly. Prisoners and the homeless too. We have a surplus population of 6 billion. For the interests of genetics, lets eradicate a few million people, shall we? Because the people with Down’s syndrome and other inherited diseases are obviously not fit to have around. Oh and don’t forget, you should shoot them, not inject painless medicine into them, because it will contaminate the meat (in Marius’s case, 200 kg of it) and Fido the poodle must have his dinner.
For Marius, and every other animal who died or will die at the hands of those they trusted, let us hope there is enough humanity left in us to try and save them. Otherwise, neither of us has nothing left.
For more information, see this article on the National Geographic website.