As a thinker, I think that given my own beliefs about life, and intelligence, my natural end state after analysing this is to be conflicted. I do believe that there is a profound connection between all living things. As far as I can tell the manifestation of a being is a function of genetic factors and individual experience. Two of the key manifestations are in the complexity of their brain and the sophistication of their intelligence. We all share a common ancestor whence we evolved often extremely divergently. We all share a source for the atoms which make up our body, which came from the guts of stars which fused lower elements into higher elements and spewed these out into the universe to eventually make their way into us. For these reasons I think it is natural to have respect for, and feel a connection with all living things.
However, that does not mean that I respect all forms of life equally. There are many organisms which are alive but lack sophistication and intelligence, and I think it would be ridiculous to, for example, regard protozoa, plants and mammals equally.
Things become more complicated for me when I consider mammals in particular. Conflict arises in me since I do respect an animal’s right to live, but I do also eat meat. When I eat meat I recognise that I am implicitly asserting that my enjoyment of this food source is more important than the animal’s right to live. I am comfortable with this apparent moral conflict.
The 2-year-old giraffe was killed because it was “surplus”. I can understand why some people would find this term quite a cold and cruel term to apply to a young life. Genetically the calf was too similar to the rest of the population and if allowed to mate would have an increased probability of producing an unfavourable transmission of genetics to the next generation. Clearly since the calf was not simply sterilised this was not the only consideration.
If I were responsible for this decision I would have sought to relocate the calf at another zoo. Apparently this wasn’t an option, and I presume that attempting to introduce it into a wild herd was not an option due to the likelihood of rejection and being consumed alive by a predator. The killing here was at least humane.
I think the killing is a shame since I think the motivations are questionable. I am not sold on the relocation of the animal not being possible. I suspect there were likely financial obstacles to achieving this. I think it’s a sad story, particularly because it seems that because of its genetics the animal was deemed unfit to continue living on a balance of probabilities. However, I will get over this sadness quickly and I do not feel compelled to condemn the actions of the zoo because I find there are much more important, compelling and outrageous injustices in the world.
Zoos are supposedly for animal preservation. If those bastards are not capable of doing this, they simply should be closed down and the idiots who took this decision should get jail time. That’s what would have happened in France, anyway.
Most breeding programs exceed one single zoo, they are performed by multiple zoos in order to maintain a larger gene pool without excessive cost. So a zoo has to make a choice, keep this particular giraffe which is useless for the program, and costs money or try to find another giraffe which costs the same, but is useful for the program. They did the latter.
What’s more important, is the question whether breeding programs like these make sense. What are their aims, keeping a population of giraffes to prevent extinction or just to ensure themselves they have a stock of giraffes to populate their zoos. There are breeding programs aimed at preserving a species, which is good. But when the animal in question is far from extinction, you have to ask yourself whether you should be so active in procreating these animals. A zoo manager should understand the impact on its image when they kill a ‘surplus’ animal, and should abort during the gestation period