Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A controversial policy at a Copenhagen zoo

This story is a few days old, but it is worth reading and has some good vocabulary words.

A zoo in Denmark (Copenhagen) recently killed a young giraffe because they said they had too many giraffes. When other zoos offered to take the giraffe, the Copenhagen zoo refused to send the giraffe to other zoos. The Copenhagen zoo said the giraffe had to be killed because its genes were not good enough.

The term "genes" is short for 'genetic material' - 'chromosomes' or 'dna'.  Genes are the little coding units in our cells that are used to determine what each of us will look like or become.

The Copenhagen zoo argued that the animal, basically, deserved to be killed because it did not have the best possible genes.  (You can read the story at the link below and better understand what happened.)

Do you agree with what the zoo did or do you feel that what the zoo did was wrong?

One of my students pointed out that if this zoo had wanted to stop the giraffe from spreading weak genes, it could have 'neutered' the giraffe (made it impossible for the giraffe to pass on its genes through sex) and given it to a different zoo.  This zoo surely seemed eager, for some reason, to kill this harmless animal.

The article:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

controversial - if something is controversial, it is an issue or topic about which people disagree strongly

surplus - something extra which is not needed

to be put down - this is a term used for animals who are killed, but who are not killed in the context of hunting.  For example, if you have a very old dog who is ill, the vet (dog doctor) might say, "Unfortunately, we can't help your dog any more and we don't want him to suffer.  It might be a good idea to put him down."

a bid - in this case a bid means an attempt; 'bid' is often used as part of a preposition phrase: "In a bid to win the election, the politician promised to lower taxes."  "In a bid to prevent a war, diplomats secretly met last night to negotiate."

a petition - a document containing the names of people who are in favor of or opposed to something

appealing for a change of heart - in this case 'appealing for' kind of means 'begging for' or sincerely asking for; a change of heart means a change in one's decision...they asked the zoo to change its decision to kill a baby giraffe

to avoid - to not do something

in-breeding - this is when birth occurs and the parents are somewhat related to each other; so in this case, two giraffes who were very close genetically apparently bred this new giraffe.  The zoo felt that the 'in-breeding' might have created a 'weaker' set of genes (in-breeding usually leads to health and disease problems in the long term).  For instance, in the history of Europe, many royal families (families of kings, queens, princes etc.) suffered from in-breeding since all the royal families had some kind of connection to each other.  Many members of the royalty in Europe had and died from weird diseases due to this in-breeding

a bolt gun - this is scary.  This is a type of gun that does not shoot out a bullet.  When you pull the trigger, the a 'bolt' temporarily shoots out (and then comes back in) - a long, heavy piece of metal - that hits the animal in the forehead and kills it.  So it is like taking an object and hitting an animal in the head with it to kill it.

a lethal injection - a shot from a needle that causes something to die from poison.  So they did not want to use a more 'gentle' way to kill this baby giraffe because it would have poisoned the meat that they wanted to give to the lions.

post mortem - after death; so they cut up the giraffe, while people watched, after the giraffe died

carcass - the dead body of an animal; a corpse is the dead body of a human

skinned - the removal of the animal's skin after death

anatomy -  the muscles and organs of the animals

death threats - people have told him that they are going to kill him

to alter - to change

state-of-the-art - up-to-date, current, up to the best standards

last ditch - a desperate last attempt, a last try before something is too late

ethical - being able to do the 'right' thing instead of the 'wrong' thing in any given situation

to portray itself as being - to show itself as being

to ensure - to make sure of

a campaign - an effort by a lot of people

barbaric - not civilized, something done by ignorant people


Yes I'm the guy who caused the scandal in Asia a few years ago:

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