To promote non-violence and a better world | My View

Guest columnist

Humanitarian Albert Schweitzer asserted that the world will not know peace until we extend our compassion to all animals. That calls to mind the recent killing of Marius, a gentle giraffe who lived in a Copenhagen zoo.

Marius was executed before a large crowd of zoo visitors because his genetic material was not interesting enough for officials who did not want him to breed and he was an extraneous animal. Despite options of neutering, despite hundreds of thousands of online protest petitions and multiple offers to transfer Marius to wildlife sanctuaries, officials proceeded with their ghastly method to manage zoo population.

Marius was shot in the head while eating his favorite meal, rye bread. His warm body was then publicly dissected and fed to lions, action meant to show observing children that this is nature’s reality, how the world operates.

This ignorant act helped desensitize youth to blatant violence against sentient life, normalized it and sent a tacit but powerful message that such brutality is OK, as it was done with the emotional detachment of a Nazi butcher. Graphic videos of this savagery remain online.

Global revulsion for this horrible act was fast, furious, but all too brief, with zoo officials purporting to have done nothing wrong.  Zoo officials continue to act with immoral impunity, treating animals as though they are disposable, inanimate property that serve only for profit. Reflecting that arrogant attitude, yet another giraffe, coincidentally also named Marius, was planned to be killed in Danish Jyllands Park Zoo.

For one to not see the immorality of Marius’ murder, to not experience the horror of what happened to him, is a clear indicator of how far one has yet to evolve, to appreciate the sanctity of life, without which, leads to a hollow, unfulfilling, meaningless existence.

This lurid spectacle was a glaring example of the depths of depravity to which humans can sink. It is not far-fetched to say that such deliberate, disrespectful, barbaric acts against animals can become stepping stones to committing atrocities against humans. A psychology professor clearly explained how humans could possibly commit the egregious holocaust in Auschwitz.  He said it begins with small linking steps, with perceiving another as less than yourself, not worthy. These attitudes may lead to slurs, disrespect that leads to physical pushes, shoves and then, even more violence.

World news recently featured another zoo event in sharp contrast to the fate of Marius. A giraffe in the Rotterdam Zoo is seen affectionately nuzzling, some say kissing, the face of his long-time keeper, ill with terminal cancer, lying on a stretcher nearby, saying final goodbyes to animals he loved. The tacit message: There is much more to animal communication and emotion that we have yet to learn.

To promote non-violence and a better world, we have a responsibility to be on guard against dangerous red flags, to speak out against stepping stones that disrespect life, blunt our inherent sensitivity and promote violence, for they diminish our souls, our humanity and our very civilization.

— Linda E. Troup of Poulsbo retired from the U.S. Navy as department head of the Ambulatory Procedure Unit and senior nurse officer for maxillofacial surgery at Naval Medical Center-San Diego, Calif. She is a long-time animal welfare proponent and has written for San Diego Animal Advocates magazine.


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