(MENAFN -Arab News) COPENHAGEN: A healthy young giraffe was shot dead at Copenhagen Zoo on Sunday despite an online petition to save it signed by thousands of animal lovers.Marius, an 18-month-old giraffe, was put down with a bolt gun early on Sunday.The body of the giraffe, which was killed in a bid to prevent in-breeding, will be chopped up and fed to carnivores at the zoo. “It was put down at 9:20. It went as planned. It’s always the people’s right to protest. But of course we have been surprised,” Stenbaek Bro told AFP.The zoo explained that it had no choice other than to prevent the animal attaining adulthood. Under European rules, in-breeding between giraffes is to be avoided.Although Marius is healthy, his genes are already well represented at the zoo and he cannot be taken in by the 300 other EAZA-affiliated zoos. Castration is considered cruel with “undesirable effects,” while releasing him in the wild is thought unlikely to succeed.