Giraffe Kill Rage Irrational and Misplaced

by Wesley J. Smith

I have been hearing from correspondents who are amazed that so many people are more emotionally outraged at the humane killing of a young giraffe at a Danish zoo than they seem to be about many terrible wrongs done to human beings.

I am not at all surprised. It is a sign of the times.  

With a growing anti-humanism driven by the emotionalism of animal rights activists and radical environmentalism (see my about-to-be released The War on Humans), it isn’t surprising that some people pour their devotion into romanticizing animals. Indeed, even those who are not misanthropic, project virtuous innocence and purity into animals–which is actually amorality.

The LA Times even editorialized against the killing. From, “Zoos Should Save, Not Kill:”

The killing of a young giraffe at a Danish zoo — after which it was publicly butchered and fed to a lion — breaks what should be the most inviolate if unwritten contract when humans remove wild animals from their natural habitat: to protect and keep healthy those animals and their descendants…

More than ever, zoos are taking responsibility for the well-being of their animals, which means keeping them alive and healthy as long as possible. That’s not what happened here. And what lesson does it teach the public about respecting and admiring wild animals when that education includes the killing and dismemberment of an animal?

“Inviolate rule?” Really?

To be sure, zoos owe their animals humane care, which is why we should applaud the ever-improving standards of husbandry. But life into old age? Why is that?

Besides, the animal was humanely killed–experiencing little if any suffering. Certainly, the death was far less painful than would have experienced if brought down by lions. 

And talk about educational: The giraffe was eaten by its natural predators. That’s real life in the wild. 

One of the great experiences of my life was staying in an animal viewing camp in South Africa. One day, we were on a guided hike and saw a beautiful giraffe–so graceful!–without a tail. The ranger told us a lion had probably tried to bring it down, grabbed the tail, and gotten kicked in the face, ripping off the tail and breaking its jaw. That lion starved to death, he told us. Tooth and claw, indeed.

The rage over this event–including death threats, for heaven’s sake!–is way over the top. Let’s save that depth of emotion for the many evils perpetrated against humans and acts of actual animal cruelty such that engaged in by Michael Vick.

The humane killing of a giraffe just doesn’t rise to the level of abuse or an act of profound wrong. In fact, while perhaps unwise–I probably would have shipped the animal to another zoo to avoid this very controversy–I don’t see it as particularly wrong at all.