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Copenhagen

Danish zoo criticised for dissecting a lion in front of a crowd of children

Zoo officials have defended it as educational.

Denmark Lion AP AP

SOME CHILDREN HELD their noses and grimaced in disgust.

Others got curious and came up close to watch Danish zoo officials carve up a lion carcass and display its organs, in a public dissection that has stirred outrage outside Denmark, but less within.

Officials at Odense Zoo in central Denmark said the gory performance was educational, teaching children about the anatomy of a lion.

Wearing headsets, they butchered the carcass of the one-year-old feline with blood-soaked gloves, slicing off its head and pulling out the intestines, heart and liver.

Adult spectators brought scarfs to their noses to ward off the pungent smell. Curious children watched in awe, some pinching their noses.

The event was deliberately scheduled to take place during the autumn school holidays.

“For all the kids living in towns, it’s wonderful for them to see and it’s only natural,” said Gitte Johanson, 28, a visitor who grew up on a farm.

Denmark Lion AP AP

Some animal rights activists sharply criticized Odense Zoo, 105 miles (170 km) west of Copenhagen, for killing the lion along with two siblings in February to avoid inbreeding, as is custom among many zoos in Europe.

Joanna Swabe, head of the Brussels-based Humane Society International/Europe, said in a statement that “zoos over-breed and kill lions and thousands of other animals deemed surplus to requirements.”

Regardless of your view on zoos per se, it is both unethical and irresponsible to allow animals to reproduce in the full knowledge that they are genetically superfluous to a conservation programme, and will be killed if no place can be found for them in at another zoo.

In February 2014, the Copenhagen Zoo faced international protests after a giraffe was killed, dissected and fed to lions in front of children.

The zoo in Odense has done public dissections for 20 years. Today, dozens 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 siblings were killed 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.

Contains reporting by the Associated Press.

Read: A Danish Zoo has killed four healthy lions>

Read: Zoo kills healthy young giraffe despite protests>

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