So despite thousands of signatures calling for his reprieve, Copenhagen Zoo have shot Marius, their surplus baby giraffe, and fed him to the tigers. And everyone is outraged. But what do they think happens in UK zoos?

Though self-righteously claiming to be working for conservation, most zoos are nothing more than commercial businesses. They exist to make money.

And nothing is as good for pulling in the punters as an adorable baby animal.

If Marius was genetically inferior, he should have been destroyed at birth – but why miss out on the opportunity to exploit a valuable commercial asset?

Look at what happened at Edinburgh Zoo last summer when the hype about Tian Tian, their expectant female panda, hit the headlines. Crowds flocked to be part of the event, sales of panda merchandise rocketed, visitors gazed at the empty cage whilst tucked behind the scenes Tian Tian was watched, monitored, encouraged.

Despite undergoing the brutal process of artificial insemination, she failed to become pregnant – and why would she, living in such a wretched and unnatural environment? No doubt next summer the zoo will again draw in the crowds on the promise of a new arrival.

If it is ever born, this panda is unlikely to be destroyed. Edinburgh Zoo have a 10-year rental contract with China costing £650,000 a year, plus extra for any cubs produced – you can see why they need to make the most of their investment.

But other animals are not so valuable. Copenhagen Zoo admits to putting down 200 perfectly healthy surplus babies each year. Other European zoos do likewise.

Though our concern for animal welfare may be higher here, over-breeding is without doubt good for business, at least in the short term.

Something to think about when you next take your children to the zoo?

Jan Hunt, Wildings Box