World

Children watch as lion is dissected at zoo despite protests

A Danish zoo has dissected a young lion in front of hundreds of children and parents, despite protests against the exhibit.

Many spectators covered their noses with scarves as a pungent smell filled the air – and trained zookeepers held up the lion's bloodied organs to the crowd, answering questions from inquisitive children.

Although the event has sparked an outcry from animal rights groups around the world, many Danes have defended the dissection as educational - and it was deliberately timed to coincide with the school holidays.

The dissection took place at Odense Zoo, about 105 miles from the Danish capital of Copenhagen. The attraction was recently voted the best zoo in Europe, and attracts 500,000 visitors each year.

It has been performing public dissections for more than 20 years, and employees said the male lion was killed because he had become sexually mature and could have started breeding with blood relatives.

Concerted efforts had been made to rehome the lion, who was at risk of fighting with other cats in the enclosure, the zoo's officials added.

His two siblings were also killed in February, but critics said zookeepers should have used contraceptive options to manage reproduction instead.

"Zoos routinely overbreed and kill lions and thousands of other animals deemed surplus to requirements," warned Joanna Swabe, the head of Humane Society International.

On Wednesday, another public dissection took part at an open-air museum in Odense, and children were invited to watch a pig being dissected, with zookeepers explaining which parts of the animal are used for meat.

This is not the first time that Danish zoos have caused a stir.

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

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