A Britain wildlife states that it was "saddened" to hear that Marius the Giraffe a perfectly healthy giraffe in Denmark, has been killed because of imposed rules by a European zoo association to prevent inbreeding, and this despite a wave of online protests to save it.

Tobias Stenbaek Bro, Copenhagen Zoo spokesman, said the male giraffe named Marius was put down using a bolt pistol and the giraffe's meat was fed to carnivorous animals in the zoo.

The Doncaster-based Yorkshire Wildlife Park (YWP) said it was saddened to hear these reports from Copenhagen.

Stenbaek Bro said the zoo has been told by the European Association of Zoos to put down the giraffe and because there were already a lot of giraffes with similar genes in the organisation's breeding programme.

He said that membership with the EAZA is not mandatory but that most responsible zoos are members of the organisation. The organisation was said to work to conserve global biodiversity.

The BBC reported that a post mortem examination has been televised live on the internet.

Apparently, a crowd of visitors to the zoo, including children, was there watching as the dead giraffe was being skinned, cut up and fed to the lions.

Bengt Hols, the zoo's scientific director, told the BBC that he has been receiving death threats but would not change the zoo's methods of animal management.

Stine Jensen from Denmark's Organisation Against the Suffering of Animals said, "It just shows that the zoo is in fact not the ethical institution that it wants to portray itself as being, because here you have a waste product - that being Marius. Here we have a zoo which thinks that putting this giraffe down instead of thinking of alternatives is the best option," she said.

Mr Holst defended the zoo saying that what had happened was in order to ensure that only the best-gened giraffes remain in the zoo. This is in order to certify the long-term survival of the species.

He also told the BBC it was a responsible practice for zoos to manage their animal populations to ensure they remained healthy. Apparently, around 20-30 animals are put down at the Copenhagen Zoo in a year.

He eventually said that the campaign to save the giraffe had gone "much too far".