Monday, February 10, 2014

To Kill a Giraffe

By now you may know that yesterday a healthy giraffe was killed and publicly dissected at a zoo in Denmark. There is outrage in some quarters - at the killing of any animal, at the killing of a named zoo animal, at the dissection, at the public forum for the dissection, that the audience included children, etc. In other quarters there is scoffing at those outraged - pointing out their hypocrisy if they think it's okay to feed the flesh of some beasts to carnivorous zoo animals or that giraffes are not endangered or that this is perfectly natural culling.

I don't like the idea of the public "autopsy," as the zoo calls it, but everyone who was present had been informed what they would see and still chose to be there. One might question the parenting skills of the parents of the children present, but parents make choices, and some are better than others. More than that though, an autopsy? Didn't they already know what killed it? Another site though used the term "dissection." Sounds like a more accurate description. The body was used as a science project. And a poorly designed one.

The zoo's reason for killing the giraffe? Trying to prevent future inbreeding? Last I heard, that could be accomplished by pharmaceutical or surgical sterilization. Or a separate enclosure. Controlling the giraffe population in a given zoo or in the collective of world zoos could likewise be achieved by simple sterilization.

The real issue is not the killing of a helpless captive animal or the desecration of a corpse or the insensitivity of slicing it up for an audience or the insanity of killing it when the world had reached out with multiple alternatives. Rather the issue is a system of raising wild animals out of nature in a pattern that requires humans to kill some of them not for our own protection or sustenance but to maintain the system in a way that satisfies our need for sciencetainment that sometimes coincides with our need for warmfuzzy feelings as we look at decontextualized critters in a setting that emphasizes their existing only to serve and satisfy us.

And that is my take on it.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Our zoo (the National Zoo in D.C.) has gotten a lot of negative attention through what I'm to understand are the needless deaths of animals. The daughter of my best friend at work works at that zoo, so I'm often struck by the differences between the negative press coverage and the challenges she describes. Still, it seems odd that the zoo in Denmark wouldn't choose a more humane alternative.