TIME China

China Tumbles in Annual Corruption Index

Chinese one-hundred yuan banknotes
Jerome Favre—Bloomberg/Getty Images

See where countries rank from most corrupt to least

China fell 20 spots in this year’s corruption rankings, despite President Xi Jinping’s massive campaign to weed out graft that has disciplined more than 60,000 government officials.

Transparency International’s annual study, released late Tuesday, scored 175 countries and territories based on how corrupt experts perceive them to be. The lowest rankings indicate the highest amounts of corruption. China, the world’s second largest economy, placed 100 on the Index, down from 80 in 2013.

“Fast-growing economies whose governments refuse to be transparent and tolerate corruption, create a culture of impunity in which corruption thrives,” José Ugaz, the chair of Transparency International, said in a statement released with the report. Brazil, Russia and India, the other members of the so-called BRIC developing nations, all placed in the lower two-thirds of the rankings.

Denmark held onto first place as the country seen as least corrupt, while recent and current conflict zones represented some of the poorest-faring countries, including Syria (159), Libya (166) and Somalia, which tied North Korea for last place.

Iraq, where the government said on Monday that an internal review had found some 50,000 soldiers were on the payroll but not showing up for duty, placed 170.

Read next: Hong Kong Protest Leaders Attempt to Surrender to Police

TIME politics

This Is How Much More Popular Same-Sex Marriage Is Today Than in 1989

A file picture taken October 1, 1989 sho
A file picture taken October 1, 1989 shows Denmark's Axel Axgil (L) and Eigil Eskildsen (R) on their Oct. 1, 1989, union, when they became the first registered gay partners in the world Keld Navntoft—AFP / Getty Images

Most Americans are in favor of gay marriage today. In 1989, not so much

Twenty-five years ago, on Oct. 1, 1989, Denmark became the first country to grant legal status to same-sex couples, allowing gay Danes to enter into domestic partnerships. Since then, dozens of countries have followed suit, as well as many U.S. states.

But Denmark in 1989 was an aberration — particularly to that country’s more conservative cousins in the United States. A TIME/CNN poll that year found that fully 69% of Americans opposed gay marriage in 1989, and 75% felt that gay couples should not be allowed to adopt children.

A prescient TIME story from November of that year, of which the poll was part, argued the merits of domestic partnerships — and went as far as to endorse gay marriage, despite the overwhelming unpopularity of that position at the time. Same-sex partnerships faced deeply entrenched opposition, from forces as diverse as major insurance companies concern about extending coverage to unmarried partners and social conservatives concerned about morals, Walter Isaacson wrote. When San Franciscans proposed that year allowing gay couples to register their relationships, John R. Quinn, the city’s Archbishop, called the idea a “serious blow to our society’s historic commitment to supporting marriage and family life.” And David Blankenhorn at the Institute for American values said the domestic-partnership movement “misses the whole point of why we confer privileges on family relationships.”

A quarter century later, it’s easy to forget how much societal mores have changed. In the intervening years, views on same-sex marriage have flipped, with 59% of Americans supporting it and just 34% opposed, according to a March 2014 poll by the Washington Post-ABC News.

In his 1989 column in TIME’s pages, Isaacson countered the prevailing views. He made a firm argument in favor of gay marriage that may have sounded eccentric in 1989 but has became mainstream in 2014. He writes:

Domestic-partnership rights and legal gay marriages… can be justified to the extent that the couples involved profess a willingness to accept the mutual financial obligations, community-property rights and shared commitments to care for each other that are the basis of family life. With this broader goal in mind, it makes sense for society to allow — indeed to encourage — domestic partners both gay and straight to take on all the rights as well as the responsibilities of marriage.

Today, 19 states have decided that it does indeed make sense to allow gay marriage, and it’s likely more states will follow their lead — if popular opinion has anything to do with it.

TIME Archaeology

The Bodies in the Bogs: An Eerie Gift From the Iron Age

Tollund man, victim of human sacrifice by ritual strangulation in Denmark.
Tollund man, victim of human sacrifice by ritual strangulation in Denmark. Werner Forman—UIG/Getty Images

There are cold cases and there are cold cases, but it’s hard to beat the one that came to light on May 6, 1950, in Silkeborg, Denmark. The local folks were already on edge after reports that a schoolboy from Copenhagen had recently gone missing, and when two brothers from the nearby town of Tollund went digging for peat in a Silkeborg bog, they made a gruesome discovery: a buried body with a rope around its neck showing no signs of decomposition. This was a murder — and it was clearly a fresh one.

Except it wasn’t. The body wore no clothes other than a pointed, leatherized, sheepskin cap that seemed not of this era. The rope was handwoven, not machine-made. And the face of the victim was covered with stubble — clearly not belonging to a young boy. All that, plus the noose, plus the ancient history of the site, suggested that this was not a body from the early years of the space age, but the latter years of the Iron Age. Carbon dating confirmed that — placing the man’s death somewhere between 375 B.C. and 210 B.C.

The extraordinarily well-preserved state of what became known as the Tollund Man was due to the unique chemistry of the bog, with its lack of oxygen, cool temperatures and bacteria-unfriendly acidic environment. The fact that there were remains to unearth at all suggested that, despite the noose, this man was not technically murdered or hanged as a criminal. If he had been, he would have been cremated. Rather, he was probably ritually hanged as a spiritual sacrifice.

Some parts of the man’s body did not fare as well as others. His arms and hands were reduced to little more than a thin layer of toughened tissue covering bones. But his internal organs — particularly heart, lungs and liver — were very well preserved. He is thought to have been about 40 when he died and stood no taller than about 5 ft. 3 in. (1.6 m).

The Tollund Man is by no means the only bog person to have been uncovered in recent decades. About a thousand others have been found in Ireland, England, Denmark and the Low Countries. This July 27, which is, yes, International Bog Day, is a good time to tip a hat to these unglamorous mires of mud and decayed vegetation. They provide an extraordinary look into an often mysterious past — and allow the people of the Iron Age to make themselves mutely known in the modern one.

TIME Travel

Copenhagen: What to See and What to Skip

The world's best restaurant "Noma" in Copenhagen on May 5, 2014.
Tivoli gardens seen at night on July 12, 2012. Jean-Pierre Lescourre—Corbis

Denmark's capital may be expensive but it's worth it

On paper, Copenhagen sounds too good to be true. For years now the Danish capital has been heralded for its design-consciousness, trumpeted as the globe’s most sustainable and bike-friendly city, venerated as a culinary destination that houses the best restaurant in the world, and held up as home to the world’s happiest people. In truth, this supposed urban utopia does have some flaws: ridiculously high prices and a tragic lack of decent Mexican restaurants among them. But from its striking architecture to its happening cocktail bars to its abundant green space, Copenhagen comes pretty close to the platonic ideal of a city.

What to See

Copenhagen - Black Diamond
View of the modern waterfront extension to the Royal Danish Library The Black Diamond in Copenhagen on April 18, 2014. Nicole Becker—dpa/Corbis

Tivoli Gardens completely lives up to its hype. The amusement park’s old-school rides (including a century-old roller coaster) are tucked between flowering gardens and outdoor cafés right in the city center, making it charming in a way that Six Flags will never be. For more modern design, check out the Design Museum, which will teach you more about the chair than you thought possible, or simply take in some of the city’s more gorgeous buildings, like its soaring Opera House, or the Black Diamond, a dramatically angled building that also houses the Danish Royal Library. The National Gallery houses an excellent collection that runs from Rembrandt to the avant-garde Asger Jorn, but for contemporary art, the Louisiana Art Museum, overlooking the Oresund Sound, is a quick 35-minutes by train away and hard to beat.

Christiansborg palace where the Danish parliament resides April 28, 2014.
Christiansborg palace where the Danish parliament resides April 28, 2014. Francis Dean—Deanpictures/Corbis

Back in town, fans of the gripping political TV drama Borgen can see where fictional Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg went to work each day at Christiansborg Palace, which houses all three branches of the national government, as well as some royal reception halls. But the city’s other famous female resident, the Little Mermaid, can safely be skipped. The harborside statue of native Hans Christian Andersen’s aquatic heroine may be one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, but it is also disconcertingly small and of questionable artistic value.

Where to Eat and Drink

The world's best restaurant "Noma" in Copenhagen on May 5, 2014.
The world’s best restaurant “Noma” in Copenhagen on May 5, 2014. Joerg Carstensen—Corbis

You might as well start at the top. Noma has been voted best restaurant in the world four times for its artful, delicious “New Nordic” cuisine, which relies solely on pristine ingredients from the region. Reservations can be hard to come by (try requesting them for lunch instead of dinner), but happily, chefs who formerly worked at Noma have been opening their own restaurants in recent years. At the casual Relæ, Christian Puglisi treats the ingredients on his vegetable-heavy menu with a gentle hand but an innovative eye, while at Amass, American chef Matt Orlando is so deeply in tune with the seasons that he changes the rustic-looking but technically-sophisticated dishes on his tasting menu almost daily. Not all of Copenhagen’s gustatory pleasures are so high-end, however. Smørrebrod, the open-faced sandwich that is the most typical of Danish foods, is elevated to a complex art at Schønnemann. And Copenhageners have been packing the recently-opened Papirøen, where stalls sell all manner of street food, from Moroccan merguez sausages to German apple pancakes. It’s a much more interesting option than the city’s one indigenous form of food truck, the omnipresent pølser wagons, or hot dog carts.

Not all of the city’s gustatory pleasures require chewing. Coffee Collective is renowned among coffee geeks, and Atelier September makes an exquisite matcha tea. Mikkeller serves up some of the best, if quirkiest, artisanal beers in Europe, and the city positively swims in personable wine bars like Ved Stranden, Den Vandrette, and Sabotøren. And there is no shortage of cozy cocktail bars either. Ruby specializes in the classics.

Tourboats in Nyhavn Canal Copenhagen
Tourboats in Nyhavn Canal on in Copenhagen on May 7, 2011. MyLoupe/Universal Image Group/Getty Images

What to Do

Much of Strøget, the world’s longest pedestrian shopping street, is given over to high street brands like Zara, but there are some quintessentially Danish jewels there too, like Hay and Illium Bolighus, both of which sell irresistible, beautifully-designed housewares. The Torvehallerne market is great for shopping of a more edible sort, with an outdoor produce market and indoor stalls selling everything from cakes to sushi. A canal tour is the most popular option for seeing Copenhagen’s many waterways, but a DIY version, via kayak, gets you even closer.

City electric bikes are for rent for visitors at central station on April 24, 2014 in Copenhagen. Francis Dean—Corbis

And in a city with over 390 kilometers of dedicated lanes, you may as well give in to peer pressure and rent a bike; it’s the most scenic way to get to Amager Strandpark beach south of the city, and the rolling deer park, Dyrehave, to the north. The restaurants and cafes of Nyhavn are thoroughly missable, specializing as they do in serving over-priced, mediocre food and drink to generally drunk tourists. But the pastel houses lining the harbor there are just as picturesque as the postcards suggest, especially on those long summer days when the clear northern light illuminates this lovely, near-perfect city.

TIME Marketing & Advertising

A Recent History of Campaigns to Get Couples to Do the Nasty

Kathrin Ziegler—Getty Images

The new “Do It for Denmark” campaign is just what it sounds like: an initiative encouraging couples to have sex—and make babies—for the good of the country.

The campaign, reminiscent of a cheesy song from “Grease 2,” was launched by the travel operator Spies Rejser, which claims that it is simply doing its share for an extremely important cause: helping couples get busy. “Do It for Denmark” offers couples the opportunity to book vacations with an “ovulation discount,” and those who prove they conceived while on holiday are eligible to win a three years’ worth of baby supplies, as well as a child-friendly vacation in the future. The point—beyond generating media attention and booking more vacations—is to combat a low birth rate that has been described as “approaching epidemic levels” in Denmark.

The company points to research indicating that 46% of couples have more sex on vacation, and that 10% of all Danes are conceived while couples are away from home. “Do It for Denmark” is hardly the first or only campaign making the case that a hotel or resort is the perfect spot for procreating, for the good of a country’s future or otherwise. In the late ’00s, a range of hotel companies and tour operators latched onto the idea that there was a strong demand among couples for “procreation vacation” packages, or “conceptionmoons,” if you’d rather. As the Wall Street Journal noted, the trend was largely an extension of other ‘moon vacation ideas, including “babymoons” (a last vacation before a baby arrives), “anniversarymoons” (basically another honeymoon on a big wedding anniversary year), and “divorcemoons” (a celebratory trip after a split).

(MORE: Snickers Ad Manages to Be Sexist to Both Men and Women)

Much larger pro-procreation movements have been undertaken by nations seeking to kick lackluster birth rates into higher gear. The most notable—and certainly, memorable—took place last year, when R&B greats Boyz II Men played in Moscow before Valentine’s Day, supposedly to help Vladimir Putin in his quest to boost the country’s birth rate, which has been falling for decades. While it was unclear it Putin had anything to do with the booking of the “I’ll Make Love to You” crooners, Slate pointed out that the Putin era has been filled with baby-making and pro-family initiatives, including the introduction of special holidays more or less created for the purpose of conception and cash bonuses for moms having second kids. In Asia, Singapore and South Korea have tried to hike birth rates with big discounts on childcare and a commercial featuring a rap song proclaiming how inherently patriotic it is to make babies.

Then there’s France. A wide range of pro-family policies, including tax breaks, generous maternity leave, and discounts on train travel and other services, was credited for helping France achieve the second-highest fertility rate in Europe in the mid-00s, 1.94 children born per woman, the Washington Post reported.

According to Reuters, the fertility rate in France climbed as high as 2.03 in 2010, but has since retreated, to 2.01 in 2012 and 1.99 last year. It might be time to call Boyz II Men.

TIME Denmark

A Danish Zoo Tries To Explain Why It Killed Four Healthy Lions

File photo of a lion and her cubs entering a lion enclosure for the first time in Copenhagen Zoo
A lion and her cubs were euthanized together with their father this week in Copenhagen to make way for a new male ©Reuters

Yes, this is the same zoo that killed Marius the healthy young giraffe

Little more than a month after it caused global dismay by euthanizing a healthy giraffe named Marius, a Danish zoo is again is the spotlight for putting down four healthy lions — a male, female and two cubs.

In a statement on its website, Copenhagen Zoo says that it culled the animals this week to avoid inbreeding, as the euthanized male might have mated with his own offspring if he hadn’t been put down. It added that the killings “had to happen now” to make way for a new male, who would have killed all sexually immature young lions if he were not himself killed by the now euthanized female.

That explanation may prove to be too little and too late. Outrage is once again spreading on the Internet, where more than 87,000 people have signed a petition to tell the zoo to stop killing healthy animals, and close to 36,000 have liked a Facebook page demanding that the zoo be shut down.


Danish Zoo Behind Giraffe Killing Just Put Down Four Healthy Lions

Copenhagen Zoo lions tuck into the remains of Marius the giraffe, Feb. 10, 2014.
Copenhagen Zoo lions tuck into the remains of Marius the giraffe, Feb. 10, 2014. Gonzales Photo—Demotix/Corbis

A zoo in Copenhagen has put down two lions and two cubs to make way for a new male, who would have killed them "as soon as he got the chance," just one month after euthanizing Marius the giraffe to an onslaught of international outrage

The Copenhagen Zoo put down two lions and two 10-month-old cubs, all healthy, to make room for a new male lion Monday.

A spokesperson told Agence France-Presse that the lions were killed because the new male would have killed them “as soon as he got the chance.”

This news comes just one month after the Danish zoo incited international vitriol, not to mention death threats, for shooting a healthy 18-month-old giraffe named Marius in the head with a bolt gun and then publicly dissecting him in front of small children and feeding him to lions.

The zoo defended its killing of the giraffe because of Europe’s inbreeding laws, even though other zoos offered to take Marius off its hands.


TIME Denmark

Giraffe-Killing Danes Anger Jews and Muslims With New Animal Cruelty Law

People look at the carcass of the giraffe Marius after it was killed in Copenhagen Zoo
People look at the carcass of the giraffe Marius after it was killed in Copenhagen Zoo, Feb. 9, 2014. Kasper Palsno—Scanpix/Reuters

A new Danish law ordering that all animals must be stunned before slaughter effectively bans production of kosher and halal meat

They may kill giraffes in Denmark, but they anesthetize them first. And as of February 24, the same goes for any animal killed for meat in the kingdom. Thanks to a new law that went into effect this week and that seeks to reduce the pain that livestock suffer on their way to becoming dinner, all animals slaughtered in Denmark must be stunned before being killed. The government says the legislation is founded on a concern for animal welfare. But Muslim and Jewish groups, who note that it effectively bans the production of kosher and halal meat on Danish soil, wonder if there are darker motives behind it.

The European Union, like the United States, requires that cows, sheep, and pigs be stunned before slaughter, but makes an exception for ritual slaughter. That was Denmark’s policy as well until last summer, when the agriculture minister at the time, Karen Haekerrup, proposed that the exception be lifted. The measure was approved by parliament on February 18, and went into effect six days later. A few days earlier, the current agriculture minister, Dan Jørgensen, explained the decision to Danish television. “There has to be a balance between religious issues and animal rights,” Jørgensen said. “We are not forbidding ritual slaughter, but it should be conducted by (first) stunning the animal.”

Yet most—though not all—Jews and Muslims believe that their traditions prohibit pre-stunning. Under dhabiha and shechita, (as ritual slaughter under the dietary laws of halal and kashrut, respectively, is known), Islam and Judaism require animals intended for human consumption to be killed with a single slash through the carotid artery in the neck. The practice is intended in part to assure that animals die with as little pain as possible (that is why, for example, both religions specify that the blade used must be sharp and perfectly smooth).

In fact, no animals have actually been ritually slaughtered in Denmark in a decade, and Jews and Muslims in Denmark are accustomed to getting their kosher and halal meat from abroad. That fact, say some, makes the legislation all the more questionable. “From the Jewish point of view, there are no practical effects to this law,” says Finn Schwarz, president of the Jewish Community of Denmark. “So you have to wonder why regulate something that is not happening?”

Benyones Essabar, chairman of the organization Danish Halal, has questions too. He notes that the proposal emerged in the wake of a controversy last summer provoked by the discovery that a Copenhagen hospital was, out of deference to Muslims, serving halal meat to all its patients regardless of their religion. And he points out that Danish Muslims have been actively trying in the past few years to find both farmers and a slaughterhouse that could supply the community locally. “While we are working on it,” he says, “The government has closed the only door.” Like Schwarz, he points out that in other critical areas of animal welfare such as hunting, pig production (Denmark is one of the biggest producers of pork in Europe) and mink farming (ditto), the government has taken no action.

The Danish government is at pains to point out that the new legislation does not, in fact, ban halal and kashrut, since those products are still available for purchase within the kingdom. But given the questions about timing of targets, it’s little wonder that Jews and Muslims outside of Denmark have found an explanation for the ruling that has nothing to do with animal welfare: prejudice. Eli Ben Dahan, Israel’s deputy minister of Religious Affairs responded to the measure by saying “European anti-Semitism reveals its true face,” and called on the Danish ambassador to Israel to prevent the law’s implementation. Noting that Denmark was also home to the Mohammed cartoon scandal, the Saudi English-language newspaper Arab News reports that many in the Middle East are calling for a boycott of Danish products.

It doesn’t help that Sweden and Norway, the two nations that also require pre-stunning, passed their legislation in the 1930s—just like Germany and Italy did. (The Allies eventually reversed the measure in the latter two countries.)

Yet neither Schwarz nor Essabar, whose organization collected nearly 20,000 signatures protesting the new law, believe that anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic sentiments are the true motive for the reform. Rather, they point to a rejection of religion in general. “Denmark is a very secular country,” says Schwarz, “and arguing anything from a religious point of view is counterproductive. So the government knows this is an easy way to show they’re protecting animal welfare. It’s like [they’re giving out] free beer.”

Free beer or not, an ever-increasing number of incidents in Denmark and throughout Europe—from hate crimes to proposed legislation limiting the number of Muslim immigrants to uproars over whether kindergartens should be required to serve pork — have contributed to the sense that neither religious group is “really” Danish. “We are Danes born in Denmark,” says Essabar. “But every time something like this happens, we are marginalized more.”

The marginalization probably isn’t over either. For all the controversy provoked by the pre-stunning law, a bigger storm is gathering over another religious practice shared by Muslims and Jews: circumcision. In December, the Danish Medical Association called on the government to ensure that boys were allowed to decide for themselves whether to have the operation and the Jyllands-Posten newspaper called for an outright ban on the practice of circumcising at birth. Another major newspaper, BT, conducted a survey that found that 87% of Danes supported such a ban.

Even Essabar, who believes that Danes are genuinely tolerant, is beginning to wonder about the impression his country is creating. “We slaughtered a giraffe in a zoo. Our military shoots pigs for practice. So do we really care so much about animal welfare? Something is not as it should be.”

TIME animals

Marius The Giraffe Is Not The Only Animal Zoos Have Culled Recently

A lion in Copenhagen Zoo eats the remains of young giraffe on Feb. 9, 2014.
A lion in Copenhagen Zoo eats the remains of young giraffe on Feb. 9, 2014. Kasper Palsnov—AFP/Getty Images

The killings of animals including zebras and pygmy hippos are necessary for conservation, zookeepers say, leading to mandatory euthanization in an effort to ensure there's room for other species, especially ones that need special protection

The killing of Marius the giraffe at a zoo in Copenhagen surprised many people around the world — and shocked quite a few — but it was no isolated incident. Also put down by European zoos in the name of genetic diversity in recent years: Zebra, antelopes, bison, pygmy hippos, and tiny Red River hog piglets.

Although zoo officials may not publicize the fact, culling is often a normal part of a zoo’s breeding program and conservation efforts. But as those breeding programs become more successful — especially with popular animals like giraffes — euthanasia is also becoming more controversial.

“As a conservation organization, we realize that there’s a crisis in the natural world, and that we have an obligation to protect species in the wild from human actions,” says David Williams-Mitchell, communications and membership manager for the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). “One of the ways we do that is through breeding programs. But we have limited space within EAZA to carry out that, and we need to prioritize animals that can contribute to future of the species.”

The killing of animals under the protection of zoos is the ironic price of success: a zoo whose breeding program manages to produce enough healthy offspring may find itself having to put down some of those individuals in order to make room for species in greater danger of extinction. Zoos, after all, only have so much space. “You have to understand that zoos today are in a position to go deeper into conservation,” says Friederike von Houwald, curator of Switzerland’s Zoo Basel. “We can very precisely identify not just an entire species, but a particular line of species that needs protection.”

Marius was not from one of those lines and that sealed his fate. But he is hardly alone. Although considered a last resort (“we don’t do it even once a year,” says von Houwald of her zoo), euthanasia is a regular tool for biodiversity and population management in many European zoos. In the past few years, river hog piglets, pygmy hippos, tigers, antelopes, bison, and zebra have all been put down in European zoos for biodiversity reasons. Although EAZA has figures from recent years, it does not release them because of their sensitivity. “We’re not ashamed of euthanizing animals,” says Williams-Mitchell. “But we don’t want to publicize it either.”

Although Marius was the first giraffe to be put down at the Copenhagen zoo, members of other much-loved species have been euthanized. In the spring of 2012, the zoo put down, via lethal injection, two leopard cubs whose genetics were over-represented. “We cull antelopes and wild boar at the zoo every year for the same reason,” says Bengt Holst, the zoo’s scientific director. “I don’t understand the outrage.”

But as breeding programs meet ever greater success, outrage is increasingly the reaction to these policies, especially when the animal being put down is popular or especially adorable. In 2010, the decision by officials at Edinburgh zoo to put down two hog piglets named Sammi and Becca sparked protests. That same year, a court in Germany ruled that the Magdeburg zoo director and three workers were guilty of violating animal rights law for putting down three tiger cubs. Marius’ death also provoked ire from animal rights organizations and social media exploded in rage and sadness, as people around the world criticized the zoo for callously disregarding the animal’s welfare. Nearly 30,000 people signed an online petition asking that the young giraffe’s life be spared.

Yet zoo experts maintain that euthanasia — even of a healthy animal — is frequently the most responsible course. Neutering and contraception prevent the animal from performing behaviors that are critical to its sense of well-being — namely reproduction and parenting. And even separating males and females for a length of time can have unpredictable outcomes: rhinos who have been prevented from mating for a few years have not been able to reproduce once the males and females were reunited.

Other alternatives are similarly problematic. “Releasing a giraffe that had spent his entire life in captivity into the wild would have been a death sentence,” says Williams-Mitchell. “It may sound counter-intuitive; why not let the giraffe take its chances? But it seems needlessly cruel to ship an animal thousands of miles, only to release it to what is the same outcome it would have at home.”

Nor does space in another zoo necessarily equal a solution. In Marius’ case, one of the zoos that offered was rejected because, as a member of EAZA, it faced the same genetic over-representation as Copenhagen. Another was not an EAZA member, which is a problem in its own right: there was no guarantee that the new zoo complies with animal welfare standards. That same problem applies to individuals who have offered to help, including the anonymous person who offered 50,000 euros for Marius.

“We had the same thing happen with one of our zebras a few years ago that we planned to euthanize because of overrepresentation,” says von Houwald. “Someone wrote to say, ‘I can take the zebra because I have room in my horse stable. But as a zoo you have a huge responsibility to make sure this living creature is properly cared for. A zebra isn’t the same as a horse.”

That zebra, like Marius, became lion food. Another thing many people don’t realize about zoos: most euthanize animals regularly for meat to feed their carnivores.

One of the things distinguished Marius’ case was the Copenhagen zoo’s openness about it. Although the giraffe was anesthetized and shot in a private area of the zoo, his autopsy was held outdoors, in an area specially opened for visitors who wished to observe the procedure. Although some critics saw this as further evidence of a lack of empathy, the zoo itself has said it was important to opt for transparency.

That’s a sentiment with which EAZA agrees. “[The euthanasia] is a reminder of the cost of human actions,” says Williams-Mitchell. “The reason that zoos have to protect species in the first place is only partly due to poaching and illegal trade. It is also because of climate change and the wholesale pillaging of these animals’ natural habitat. Until people start to take responsibility for their actions and their lifestyle decisions, scientists who want to protect animals like Marius will continue to have to make hard decisions.”

TIME Denmark

Did Marius the Giraffe Have to Die?

Marius the giraffe at the Copenhagen Zoo on Feb. 7, 2014, two days before he was shot dead then autopsied in the presence of the zoo's visitors, despite an online petition to save him signed by thousands of animal lovers Keld Navntoft / AFP / Getty Images

The Copenhagen Zoo explains its decision to euthanize the healthy 2-year-old beast

Poor Marius. At 10 a.m. Sunday morning, the young giraffe was put down by his minders at the Copenhagen Zoo, despite the fact that he was perfectly healthy (and utterly adorable). Then, with television cameras rolling and dozens of families watching, the giraffe’s body was skinned and carved up for tiger meat.

The zoo said it had no choice but to euthanize the 2-year-old giraffe because Marius was part of an international breeding program whose bylaws prohibit inbreeding in an effort to maintain the health of the stock.

“The purpose of the breeding program is to have as healthy a population as possible, not only now, but in the future,” said the zoo’s scientific director, Bengt Holst, in an interview with TIME. “As this giraffe’s genes are overrepresented in the breeding program, the European Breeding Programme for Giraffes has agreed that Copenhagen Zoo euthanize him.”

A staff veterinarian anesthetized the animal before shooting it through the head with a bolt-action rifle. Marius died instantly.

Animal lovers did not take the news lightly. In the days since the zoo made its plans known, thousands around the world signed petitions demanding that Marius not be euthanized. Holst has received numerous death threats, and one animal-rights group is calling for a boycott of the zoo. Since Feb. 7, a Danish Facebook page dedicated to the giraffe has posted regular pleas from the giraffe’s supporters. Its last entry before Marius’s death featured a photo of the young giraffe, and a plea, “Help me.”

(MORE: Baby Giraffe Born at L.A. Zoo Makes Her Public Debut)

Did Marius have to die? Other alternatives, like administering contraceptives, can cause side effects like renal failure. And neutering the young giraffe would have diminished his quality of life, says Holst. “Our most important objective is to ensure that the animals have the best life they can for as long as they live, whether that’s 20 years or two years. Breeding and parenting are especially important behaviors for a giraffe’s well-being. We didn’t want to interfere with that.”

On Friday, the Copenhagen Zoo received two offers from other zoos willing to take Marius. But one, a zoo in the U.K., already had an ample supply of Marius’s genetic line, and accepting him would mean denying room to a giraffe with less well-represented set of genes. The other, in southern Sweden, offered no guarantee that Marius would not later be sold elsewhere.

About 15 people gathered outside the zoo when it opened this morning to protest the giraffe’s death. After he was killed, technicians performed an autopsy for research purposes that was open to the public before breaking down the body to be served to its carnivores. Although the operation lasted for well over three hours, Holst said, many parents and their children stayed and watched the whole thing. Their fascination with learning about giraffe anatomy — how big the animals’ hearts are, or how they have the exact number of vertebrae in their long necks as humans do in their short ones — reinforces his sense that the zoo acted properly.

“We were open about it because we know [the euthanasia] was the right thing to do,” Holst says. “If we’re serious about science, we can’t be led by emotion.”

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