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Marius the giraffe is pictured in Copenhagen Zoo

Marius the giraffe is pictured in Copenhagen Zoo February 7, 2014. The Copenhagen Zoo went ahead with a plan to shoot and dismember a healthy giraffe on Sunday and feed the 18-month-old animal's carcass to lions - an action the zoo said was in line with anti-inbreeding rules meant to ensure a healthy giraffe population. The giraffe, named Marius, was shot in the head and then cut apart in view of children, according to a video of the incident released by the Denmark-based production company Localize. The zoo's plans had sparked an outcry from animal rights activists. A British zoo had offered to give Marius a home and even started an online petition to save the giraffe, gathering more than 25,000 signatures. Picture taken February 7, 2014. REUTERS/Keld Navntoft/Scanpix Denmark (DENMARK - Tags: ANIMALS SOCIETY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. DENMARK OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN DENMARK

Danish zoo kills giraffe to prevent inbreeding

Saying it needed to prevent inbreeding, the Copenhagen Zoo killed a 2-year-old giraffe and fed its remains to lions as visitors watched, ignoring a petition signed by thousands and offers from other zoos and a private individual to save the animal.

Marius, a healthy male, was put down Sunday using a bolt pistol, said zoo spokesman Tobias Stenbaek Bro. Visitors, including children, were invited to watch while the giraffe was then skinned and fed to the lions. (AP)

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