Denmark, revolution, giraffes, bicycles and climate change. SJ Dodgson. MJoTA v8n1 p0210
I read everything I can put in front of my eyes, and when I saw an international story about the endangered species program at Copenhagen Zoo killing a giraffe for being the wrong sort of giraffe, and then feeding him to the lions, I anticipated a large number of Facebook posts about what barbarians the Danes are.
The story: I read in Danish papers that the zoo keeps animals going that are most able to thrive and breed, and for whatever reason, baby giraffe Marius did not have what it takes to continue using zoo resources. I also read that the objections to euthanizing the giraffe came from Danes. Freedom of speech is healthy in Denmark. And so is stupidity. I imagine the person who ordered Marius' killing will be quietly moved to less harmful responsibilities.
My reaction: my gosh, in the MJoTA list of which countries really understand the world and their place in it, Denmark is in the top 5. Maybe even the top. Denmark was the only country occupied by the Nazis that neither handed over Jews or let them be taken. Danes believe that Danes are Danes are Danes.
And Danes are at the forefront of citizen and government movements to lessen the impact of human activity on global climate change. In 1993 the first thing I saw on the train riding into Copenhagen was a massive windmilll farm, generating electricity. And the first observation that any visitor to Copenhagen makes is the dominance of bicycles in the streets.
I have traveled through Denmark 5 times on my way to other countries. Once the purpose of my journey was to visit Copenhagen. In 1989, I was the guest of a professor of biochemistry at Copenhagen University, and I had done him a favor by completing some experiments for him at the University of Pennsylvania. It was August, and after we had gone over the data, he brought me to his house overlooking the North Sea all the way to Sweden, and he and his wife pulled a table under an apple tree and we talked.
About science, about revolution. It was the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution, and Americans I met on the train from Germany were traveling to Paris to celebrate.
And I had recently returned to Germany after a week in Finland, which seemed to be filled with Chinese refugees from the horrors of the crackdown of the Chinese government on students in June 1989.
One of these Chinese students came to me and begged to be hired. I had managed to get him into the lab of a Finnish colleague until his US papers could be organized. One month after my trip to Copenhagen Dr Chu was in my lab in Philadelphia. In the 2 years in my lab, I never found out what Dr Chu did during the June 1989 crackdown, but I saw him talking with other Chinese dissidents at every opportunity. Did I stop him from getting shot? I don't know.
During my 1989 visit to Copenhagen, I spent the night in a hotel near the royal palace, and the next day went back to Germany to continue my vacation in Freiburg-im-Breisgau with my husband and children. Lovely.