Marius,the reticulated giraffe from the Copenhagen Zoo, who was euthanized this week brought a flurry of media attention. Most of this attention focusing on the European Association of Zoo and Aquaria's (EAZA) practices of culling animals that are not biologically diverse enough for their program.
I understand the need to protect endangered species. In doing so it is imperative to keep what remaining animals we have in breeding programs genetically diverse. Prevention of inbreeding is important; but shouldn't this be considered before breeding is allowed to occur with captive animals vs. after the fact?
Working as a Registered Veterinary Technician, in an Animal Shelter, my job is a daily reminder of the pet overpopulation crisis North America deals with on a daily basis. Animals that have been discarded or those allowed to roam unaltered and ready and able to breed all contribute to this problem. A problem many call being an irresponsible pet owner.
There are days when Shelter workers like myself have to make unfortunate decisions to euthanize animals. This may be due to lack of resources whether it be space, or funds to treat medically/behaviourally extensive issues. These decisions are never made lightly and weigh on the hearts of the workers who are left with no other option because a pet owner was irresponsible and left the issue for us to deal with.
So, why, when we struggle with pet overpopulation issues in this world (that most deem unnecessary and cruel) would we be so nonsensical to allow it in a captive bred herd of animals in a zoo? We know there are sterilization methods available to prevent this situation. We know we can offer enclosures to separate animals we do not want in close contact with each other. We know this is a controllable issue.
Once again an animal has brought forward the need for patrons of any animal related establishment to take a good look at what you are supporting by visiting them. Your lack of purchasing an admission ticket or donating money to them will be most loudly heard and will help to ensure they are doing right by the animals.
If anything, Marius' short life should be a lesson to us all to become more aware, more involved and to make positive changes happen after being enlightened by negative situations. It starts with just one voice.