Odense Zoo in Denmark is planning on dissecting a lion in front of an audience.
The dissection is set to take place this Thursday, nine months after the lion was put down to make room for lions that were able to breed. The date was chosen as it coincides with Danish schools' autumn holidays.
This is not the first time Danish zoos have acted controversially when it comes to culling healthy animals. In 2014, Copenhagen zoo killed and publicly dissected a two-year-old giraffe which they later fed to their lions. The zoo also killed two old lions and two lion cubs to make room for a new male lion later that year.
The zoo’s website states that “It is better to reserve space to promote the breeding of animals that can help ensure the species rather than to reserve the space for an individual which is the result of in-breeding. This may sound harsh but these are the conditions we are able to offer. If we start accommodating more animals than the enclosures are built for, the health of all the animals suffers and that is not the way to go.” It added, “If we, with a view to disseminating information, can teach our guests about the anatomy of a lion, for instance, by cutting it up, this is what we do.”
“We are not chopping up animals for fun. We believe in sharing knowledge,” said Michael Wallberg Soerensen, a zookeeper at Odense zoo, speaking to the Associated Press. “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 added.
As New York Post reported, the majority of Danes seem unfazed about the upcoming event. The zoo's Facebook post promoting the event was met with largely positive comments, the top rated of which said (translated from Danish): “It's a fantastic job you're doing in Odense Zoo... Please continue the wonderful work with my support.”
Main image credit: Martin Börjesson/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)