Damn those genetics

by M.McGirr on February 18, 2014 - 8:08pm

As an animal lover, I found it shocking that the Copenhagen Zoo had decided to euthanize a young and healthy giraffe on February 9. Their claim it was because Marius the giraffe had common genetics which could result in inbreeding. It might be a growing trend in Zoos across the globe as genetic research increases. Should healthy zoo animals be euthanized to prevent inbreeding?
I don’t think we should euthanize healthy zoo animals because they were born with common genetics. In order to prevent inbreeding, an alternative to harmful contraceptives is neutering the giraffe, or performing vasectomy similar to the one used for male lions. Zoo animals do not mandatorily have to partake in a breeding program because visitors go to zoos to see exotic animals for entertainment. In addition, breeding programs are useful when there are accompanying release programs to maintain a stable wild animal population. However, if there are no release programs and enough animals in captivity, the breeding program should relax on breeding. My strongest value in this argument is that each life is precious, and if the zoo bred a healthy animal it should raise it until it dies of natural causes.
The Zoo justifies its decision in a few ways. Inbreeding causes a lot of problems for future generations. They also like to allow the giraffes to breed naturally, and contraceptives are dangerous for the giraffe’s health. In addition, they also would like to have more space for a more genetically valuable giraffe, in order to increase or maintain the quality of the species. The giraffe they euthanized was genetically very common and wouldn’t further or benefit the species as a whole.
My question for readers is this: What is the purpose of zoos and their breeding programs?

The Guardian’s Article

Copenhagen Zoo Statement