Melvin the giraffe in happier times. Photo: Kristiansand Zoo
”It was very traumatic. People were crying everywhere,” Øivind Hansen, who witnessed the killing, told VG. His daughter Sissel Finstad, 23, had come home crying from the zoo.
”It was a horrible experience for everyone who saw it. It has really affected people,” he said.
Per Arnstein Aamodt, the zoo's chief executive, confirmed that the giraffe, which had been stuck in a fence, had been killed by the antelope.
”I still don’t have a clear picture of what happened, but the giraffe is dead. Our vet Rolf Arne Ølberg has confirmed this. He will perform an autopsy on the giraffe now. He arrived before the giraffe died, but he was unable to save it.”
Ølberg apologized to visitors affected in a press release put out on Monday night.
“The animal kingdom is occasionally brutal, " he said. "But we don’t think it’s nice that so many of our visitors, large and small, got an involuntary insight into this today."
Glenn Ivan Andreasen, another witness, told VG that there had been no zookeepers on the scene when the giraffe had been killed.
”Everyone was in shock, but what surprised me most was that there was no staff present. Several of those who were witnesses tried to call the hotline to alert those working in the park, but no one answered. I found it very strange that it took ten to fifteen minutes before someone intervened," he said.
Aamodt, the zoo director, said that the two zookeepers on duty had come to the scene as fast as they had been able.
”There aren’t people with these animals all the time, but there are always zookeepers at work,” he said. “I understand that there were two zookeepers at work today and both came to the scene after a short time.”
The giraffe won a special place in the hearts of many Norwegians when it was born in 2010, after the zoo polled the readers of VG newspaper to find a name for it.
The newspaper received 1600 suggestions, finally settling on ‘Melvin’ via a popular vote.
Melvin is not the first Scandinavian giraffe to make headlines. In 2014 Copenhagen Zoo euthanized a health young male giraffe named Marius.
The carcass was subsequently feed to the lions, causing international outrage.