Haggar the Zookeeper

Bengt Holst is having a bad month. The death threats, the incessant media requests… you kill one giraffe, and the world goes absolutely apeshit.

I like animals. I willingly share a house with at least two, of whom I am aware at least. I understand why people are mad about this. But seriously. People need to sit down, shut the fuck up, and listen:

The Copenhagen Zoo is a member of European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. The dearly departed was part of the EAZA’s breeding program. This isn’t quite the same as your dog or cat’s breeding program; it’s a tad more controlled and considerate than the reckless fucking of anything four-legged and furry. As the breeding population is small, great care must be taken to maintain their genetic diversity.

Animals with “average” genomes cannot be bred, so the zoo opted to shoot the giraffe in the head with a captive bolt gun, dismember its body, and feed his succulent meats to the zoo’s lions, who no doubt appreciated the taste of home.

While millions of middle class white people shit themselves with unadulterated animal-loving rage, the EAZA completely endorsed the culling [emphasis mine].

The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) learned yesterday of the euthanisation of a giraffe held within a breeding herd at Copenhagen Zoo. EAZA fully supports the decision of the zoo to humanely put the animal down, and believes strongly in the need for genetic and demographic management within populations of animals in human care. EAZA’s breeding programmes are at the forefront of efforts to safeguard endangered species, and are a key part of the worldwide strategy to prevent the actions of humans from destroying the future of the natural world. Our aim is to safeguard for future generations a genetically diverse, healthy population of animals against their extinction; Copenhagen Zoo is highly involved in these programmes and took a transparent decision that the young animal in question could not contribute to the future of its species further, given the restraints of space and resources to hold an unlimited number of animals within our network and programme, and should therefore be humanely euthanased

EAZA is obligated to ensure that the animal would continue to live under the high standards of welfare that are exemplified by zoos such as Copenhagen and would only very rarely consider transferring the animal to a zoo that is not subject to our code of practice. We stress that the vast majority of animals euthanised in zoos are put down as a result of ill health, and extremely rarely for reasons of conservation management. Giraffes within EAZA zoos are managed via an EEP or endangered species programme and any moves to other facilities are made after consultation with the coordinator and species committee.

So there you have it.

The zoo couldn’t breed the animal under EAZA standards. They couldn’t sterilize the animal and care for it under EAZA standards. They couldn’t give the animal away under EAZA standards.

I’m not seeing a vast array of options here.

While the EAZA’s arguments are scientifically sound, I will concede that the animal could have been sterilized and moved to another facility. People were willing to take it. If we can find good homes for human beings, we should be able to find good homes for giraffes. To be fair, however, it was the EAZA’s policies which forbade the Copenhagen Zoo from relocating the animal.

So, if you’re going to get mad at anyone, get mad at them.


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