Denmark went on a giraffe-killing spree during the Olympics. What was it thinking?

[Editor’s note: I originally pounded out a post based on roughly the same set of facts back when they appeared in actual headlines. That post got a lot of views, but suffered from the fact that it didn’t make a lot of sense. I decided to take advantage of a brief airport layover to reformulate what I had written into something more sensible. You can still check out the original post, in case you want to compare for some reason.]

Denmark has had a pretty quiet showing at the Olympic games in Sochi, amassing precisely zero medals thus far. Maybe that’s because it’s been busy taking care of some business back at home.

Giving lie to the aphorism that any publicity is good publicity, the country managed to make headlines in the world of sports for the sharpshooting talents of the Copenhagen Zookeepers:

A Danish zoo sparked outrage Sunday when it put down a healthy young giraffe . . . The fate of 18-month-old Marius shocked animal lovers around the world, with thousands signing an online petition to save him and a billionaire offering to buy him and keep him in his Beverly Hills garden.

However last-ditch efforts to spare Marius were to no avail . . . A crowd of visitors, including small children, looked on as the giraffe was put down. Some grimaced while others took photos as he was autopsied and chopped up.

In case that wasn’t enough, news soon leaked that another Danish zoo was planning to kill a second young giraffe by the name of — you guessed it — Marius. Real creative, these Danes.*

Apparently no one told Denmark that shooting giraffe is a competition traditionally held during the Summer Olympics. (Unsurprisingly, Kazakhstan dominates.)

So what’s behind this apparent spate of girafficide that suddenly gripped a country that should have been transfixed by the Olympics? Did Denmark think it could get away with executing these gentle giants while the rest of the world focused its attention on the games going on in Sochi?

As you may have gathered from the general direction of my speculation, I do not think the timing of these executions is entirely a coincidence. Indeed, i suspect they have a lot to do with the ongoing Olympic games.

Specifically, consider Denmark’s aforereferenced difficulty landing medals. I like to imagine that someone on the Danish National Olympic Committee thought the lackluster athletes they sent to Russia might successfully manage to ingratiate themselves with their hosts by emulating a team that has historically enjoyed considerably more success at the Olympics — so don’t be surprised if you see an ice-skater emerge in an outfit that looks suspiciously like this sometime in the near future:

giraffe skater

[That 1998 picture depicts Russian gold-medalist Ilia Kulik.]

Between feeding the Marii to the lions and fashioning their hides into flashy new uniforms, I have to say it’s admirable that Denmark has such a strong tradition of using every part of the animal.

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*Seriously, if you have to kill a giraffe, at least consider using a guillotine.

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