Denmark's Odense Zoo says this Thursday it will publicly dissect a year-old lion it killed. The announcement comes less than a year after another Danish zoo set off massive international online protests for killing an apparently healthy young giraffe, dissecting it and feeding it to lions in front of school children.
Zookeeper Michael Wallberg Soerensen says the healthy young female lion was humanely put down nine months ago because the zoo had too many felines and wanted to ensure there was no inbreeding which could have resulted in birth defects.
He says the lioness, which has been kept in a freezer, will be dissected on Thursday to coincide with Denmark’s school's’ fall break. Wallberg Soerensen says his zoo, which is in central Denmark, has performed public dissections for 20 years which are “not for entertainment but are educational”.
“We are not chopping up animals for fun. We believe in sharing knowledge,” he says, adding the public dissection was to give people “a closer-to-the-animals experience.”
“It is important not to give animals human attributes that they do not have,” he says.
Wallberg Soerensen say he would prefer to have another zoo take excess animals. "Believe me, that is the last resort. I would always prefer to send an animal to another zoo in Europe than have to put it down"
He says as soon as the lioness was born he began looking for other zoos where the lion could be sent but no-one wanted her.
The Odense Zoo holds public dissections “once or twice a year”, promoting the events on its website. There are no age restrictions for attending the dissections.
Last year the Copenhagen Zoo was internationally condemned after a healthy two year-old giraffe named Marius, killed to prevent inbreeding, was dissected and then fed to lions in front of a crowd that included children.
Animal right activists say that zoos in the U.S. attempt to avoid killing animals by using contraceptives to make sure they don’t have more offspring than can be house.