Giraffes are the tallest animals on land. All giraffes are the same species but there are several subspecies that differ in their coat pattern.
In the wild giraffes live in Africa and they specialize in eating leaves from trees where other herbivores cannot reach them.
Giraffes are not particularly rare and their survival is not threatened. Nevertheless zoos have a giraffe breeding program for captive giraffes. It seems to be quite successful. In fact recently a zoo in Denmark has decided to cull one of its male giraffes because his genetic make up was redundant.
In spite of lots of protest from animal rights activists, and several offers to buy the animal, the giraffe was slaughtered in front of an audience and then his carcass was carved to pieces, some of which were fed to the lions in the zoo.
This might look horrifying but we do slaughter our own food animals in similar ways. We are just not used to seeing a zoo animal having that fate. But then a lot of animals in zoos are members of species that are endangered in the wild. One of the disadvantages of being a member of a species that is relatively abundant is that people just don’t place as much value on the life of each individual as they place on members of more endangered species.
Since the worldwide giraffe population is declining due to habitat loss and poaching, the question still remains if superfluous giraffes in zoos shouldn’t rather be transferred to other zoos, rather than simply killed off.
Danish zoo shoots giraffe and feeds carcass to carnivores
Giraffe Conservation Foundation
Giraffe page on the Wildlife Conservation Society web site.