A DANISH zoo publicly dissected a year-old male lion, pulling out its organs to show a few hundred people including children - an event met outside Denmark with criticism and online protests.
Adult spectators brought scarves to their noses to ward off the pungent smell as they watched the dissection, considered by many in this Scandinavian country of 5.6 million to be an educational programme. The event was deliberately scheduled to take place during the autumn school holidays.
A Brussels-based animal protection group, however, sharply criticised Odense zoo, 170 kilometers (105 miles) west of Copenhagen, for killing three healthy young lions this year.
Joanna Swabe, head of the Humane Society International/Europe, said in a statement that “zoos routinely over-breed and kill lions and thousands of other animals deemed surplus to requirements.”
She said zoos have “an ethical responsibility” and can use contraceptive options “to manage reproduction, prevent inbreeding (and) maintain genetically healthy populations.”
One of central Denmark’s most popular tourist attractions, the Odense zoo has done public dissections for 20 years. On Thursday, scores of children stood around a table where the zoo had displayed a stuffed lion cub next to the lion being dissected.
Odense zoo employee Lotte Tranberg said the male lion and its two siblings were killed in February because they were getting sexually mature and could have started mating with each other and the zoo wanted to avoid inbreeding. They also could have killed each other because they would have been kept in the same enclosure, she said.
Tranberg talked about the lives of big cats during the demonstration and children raised their hands to ask questions.