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Thank you for your comment and sorry if it took me so long to answer, hope you get to see this message. You make a valid point on how an individual life is worth protecting, which is something I actually completely agree – on a personal level. I believe, however, that scientists working on breeding programmes have to prioritise the species survival and well-being, and this includes making hard decisions like this one. I feel horrible about Marius’ death. But as I explained in my article, you can’t really prevent breeding in captive giraffes. Marius would have ended up breeding with a family member, compromising the species’ health. May I ask you how you would have acted?Reply
One possibility that you didn’t mention is vasectomy. Another possibility might be to separate Marius from other giraffes in such a way that he could interact with them but just not breed, for example a fence that’s tall enough to prevent breeding, but short enough to allow interaction with giraffes on the other side of the fence.
If those solutions are not possible I still would have kept Marius alive because we humans caused him to be in his current location and situation in the first place, and we are thus morally obligated to care for him for his life span if we can’t release him into the wild. As I mentioned above, killing Marius to keep the captive giraffe gene pool healthy is a human construct which we don’t impose on humans and our companion animals. This is similar to how humans often designate certain species to be invasive species in a particular environment and yet never designate humans as an invasive species in a particular environment. These are human ideas that are deemed to be scientific, but are also very biased ideas. An alternative form of a scientific view would be to keep Marius alive and try some humane methods, such as I suggested above, to keep him from breeding in order to add to our knowledge base of captive giraffes. Only a few decades ago, the scientific method of housing zoo animals in captivity was to keep animals in cages or other very confined areas, and this “scientific view” has now been discredited – what we view as scientifically and morally correct today isn’t necessarily what we’ll view as scientifically and morally correct in the future.Reply
Marius obviously had a right to live his full life. We don’t kill humans or pets because their genes may not be perfect and may not be the best for their species’ long-term survival, so why should we kill a giraffe who has as much right to live as anyone else? We’re the ones that caused Marius to end up in his situation in the first place and we humans are thus responsible for providing him with a good life.Reply