Copenhagen Zoo has killed a healthy giraffe because of rules imposed by a European zoo association to deter inbreeding despite a wave of online protests to save it.
Zoo spokesman Tobias Stenbaek Bro said it put down the male giraffe, named Marius, using a bolt pistol and will feed its meat to carnivores in the zoo.
Mr Stenbaek Bro said the zoo was recommended to put down the giraffe by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria because there were already a lot of giraffes with similar genes in the organisation’s breeding programme.
Mr Stenbaek Bro said EAZA membership is not mandatory but most responsible zoos are members of the organisation, which works to conserve global biodiversity.
An online petition to save Marius had received more than 20,000 signatures. It is understood that Copenhagen Zoo turned down offers from other zoos, and €500,000 from a private individual, to save the animal.
One of the zoos offering to take the animal was the UK's Yorkshire Wildlife Park, based in Doncaster, which said it was saddened to hear the reports from Copenhagen that the animal had been euthanased.