[Taxacom] Killing of zoo giraffe to avoid inbreeding

Michael A. Ivie mivie at montana.edu
Tue Feb 11 13:06:03 CST 2014


The public relations issue is one for the press to be responsible for.  
What I object to is the pillorying of professional colleagues by other 
professionals, or in this case a highly qualified amateur in a 
professional forum, one that should  know better.  We in the US are 
grateful for European support against pseudoscience reactions to 
Evolution, i.e. Creationism, something that Europe simply doesn't have 
to deal with at home.  Those who received a public education in Kansas 
that included Evolution should be particularly sensitive to this fact.  
Well, Europe's equivalent pseudoscience issues are animal rights, 
homeopathy and GMO panic. We should give our European colleagues the 
same support against an ignorant public that we receive on the 
creationism issue.

When zoologists, amateur or professional, start bashing the 
professionals in Copenhagen for "inexcusable" behavior that is sound and 
considered management, it needs to be called.  We should defend them, 
not pile on with an emotional and whipped up public.  The PR public 
issues are a different sphere.  Sure, maybe there was a secret way to do 
this that would not have had the press involved, but the management, the 
educational value of the involvement of observers and the decisions made 
should be supported by other professionals.  We do not know all of the 
facts, the zookeepers in Copenhagen did.

All in all, the attention has provided a forum for people who have the 
intelligence to grasp it to learn about just what has to be done to keep 
these ex situ breeding programs going.  When in Kruger, I saw a giraffe 
covered with a pride of lions, there was blood and gore everywhere, and 
cars with kids lined up with binoculars.  Lets get real about this.

Watch this really excellent performance by one of the Copenhagen 
zookeepers who handled a really aggressive  interview in a way that 
educates http://www.dr.dk/Nyheder/Indland/2014/02/11/093002.htm

Idiot interviewer: "In London we would not show school children this 
process, we would protect them from it."  Excellent professional 
response "Why protect them from real life?"  Bravo!

and read this: 

On 2/11/2014 9:01 AM, Ken Kinman wrote:
> Hi Jason,        I certainly agree.  It's a public relations disaster that should have been anticipated, especially cutting him up in a public setting after the public was already clearly upset about putting him down.  The following news story is a good one from a Canadian perspective:
> http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/giraffe-s-killing-in-copenhagen-reveals-zoos-dark-culling-practices-1.2530562
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2014 15:40:04 +0100
>> From: aphodiinaemate at gmail.com
>> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Killing of zoo giraffe to avoid inbreeding
>> I don´t think anybody (in this forum at least) is arguing against the
>> logic that Marius was, genetically speaking, dispensable. However the
>> emotional argument has been an unmitigated disaster:
>> Google hits for Marius the Giraffe 110,000
>> Google hits for Giraffe conservation 6,920
>> He even has a Wikipedia page! Not a little one mind you, but a
>> detailed one started three days ago. The best bit is this: "Known for:
>> Killed and fed to the lions". Now this is publicity money just can´t
>> buy.
>> The media coverage is even better. You´d think Copenhagen zoo is
>> running a modern version of the Fabulous Gourmet Club. Those 200
>> pounds of flesh are going to be awfully expensive. Geez. Couldn´t they
>> plug the animal before giving it a name and buried it?
>> I think an infusion of realpolitik in the whole affair would have been
>> a better approach. Yes, couch nature enthusiasts may be ignorant, or
>> emotional, or mushy-headed bleeding hearts, but that is the public,
>> the ones that decides with their feet where to go for fun and
>> ultimately where tax dollars go to. So once the giraffe became Marius
>> The Giraffe and the euthanasia plan broke out in the news channels,
>> salvage the situation somehow to avoid the backlash.  But carving
>> Melman and feeding it to Alex, well... it´s a tabloids dream.
>> Best
>> Jason
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Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D., F.R.E.S.

Montana Entomology Collection
Marsh Labs, Room 50
1911 West Lincoln Street
NW corner of Lincoln and S.19th
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717

(406) 994-4610 (voice)
(406) 994-6029 (FAX)
mivie at montana.edu

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