The putting down of a healthy young giraffe in Denmark despite offers from a British zoo to rehome him has sparked outrage with many branding it ‘disgusting.’
Nearly 30,000 people signed an online petition to save two-year-old Marius but he was killed using a bolt gun at Copenhagen Zoo on Sunday.
His carcass will now be used for research and partly fed to other animals.
The zoo said it had no choice but to destroy Marius because of its duty to avoid in-breeding.
Although a number of zoos across the globe, including Yorkshire Wildlife Park which has a state-of-the-art giraffe facility, had offered to take him in.
Many people took to Twitter to vent their fury. @Amandashewan tweeted: “R.I.P Marius. Sorry we couldn’t save you. Absolutely disgusting! This poor giraffe had home offers too!”
Another post from @PatLawton1 said: “They are the scum of the earth, may they rot in hell. Almost 27,000 sigs too.”
@sophieRblake said: “Shame on Copenhagen Zoo for killing Marius, a healthy young giraffe, when others zoos had offered to re-home him.”
While @vp_x wrote: “It is so sad…he could have been saved! This is just cruel and I think there are no words for this. It’s just disgraceful!”
Bengt Holst, scientific director at the Danish zoo, defended Marius's destruction, saying that the giraffes at the zoo bred very well, and where this was the case giraffes had to be selected to ensure the best genes were passed down to ensure the animal's long-term survival.
He told the BBC it was a responsible practice on the part of zoos to manage their animal populations to ensure they remained healthy, with some 20-30 animals put down at Copenhagen Zoo in a typical year.
Stine Jensen, from Denmark's Organisation Against the Suffering of Animals, said Copenhagen Zoo was behaving unethically.
"This situation should not have occurred at all. It just shows that the zoo is in fact not the ethical institution that it wants to portray itself as being, because here you have a waste product - that being Marius.
"Here we have a zoo which thinks that putting this giraffe down instead of thinking of alternatives is the best option," she said.
Animal rights campaigners have described the move as barbaric and have accused the zoo of being unethical.
The director of a wildlife park in the Netherlands, Robert Krijuff, whose last-minute offer of a place was also rejected, said: "I can't believe it. We offered to save his life. Zoos need to change the way they do business."
Maria Evans, who started the online petition to save Marius, said he ‘deserved to live.’
She added: “The zoo have produced him so it is their responsibility to find him a home, no matter how long it takes. They must not be allowed to take the easy option.”
Copenhagen zoo has reportedly previously killed bears, tigers, and zebras to stop overbreeding.