Copenhagen - A perfectly 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, zoo spokesperson Tobias Stenbaek Bro confirmed. The body of the giraffe, which was killed in a bid to prevent in-breeding, was then chopped up and fed to carnivores at the zoo - Watch the video of the Giraffe being killed here - add to that it dissected in front of a number of families, including children.The zoo explained that it had no choice other than to prevent the animal attaining adulthood. Under European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) rules, in-breeding between giraffes is to be avoided.Although Marius is healthy, his genes were already well represented at the zoo and he could not 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. The giraffe's impending death sparked outrage online, with more than 5 000 people signing a "Save Marius" Facebook petition. More than 3 000 people signed a similar Danish-language online petition and nearly 24 000 an English-language version. Do you think fear of in-breeding justifies this animal dying the way it did? Tell us what you think in the comments section below, or alternatively share your thoughts with us to firstname.lastname@example.org.