Why A Danish Zoo Wants To Publicly Dissect A Lion

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Danish zoo is planning to publicly dissect a nine-month-old lion — a year after another park’s decision to dissect and skin a giraffe and feed it to lions triggered massive online protests.

The Odense zoo in central Denmark says the female lion was put down nine months ago because the zoo had too many felines. It said the animal, which has since been kept in a freezer, will be dissected Thursday to coincide with the schools’ fall break.

The move has so far attracted several protests but has been mostly well received in Denmark, unlike similar plans at the Copenhagen Zoo in February 2014. That zoo faced international protests after a healthy 2-year-old giraffe named Marius, also put down to prevent inbreeding, was dissected in front of a crowd that included children and then fed to lions.

Zookeeper Michael Wallberg Soerensen said Saturday that Odense Zoo, about 170 kilometers (105 miles) west of Copenhagen, has performed public dissections for 20 years and that they are “not for entertainment” but are educational.

“We are not chopping up animals for fun. We believe in sharing knowledge,” Wallberg Soerensen said. “It is important not to give animals human attributes that they do not have.”

Many Danes posted positive comments on Odense Zoo’s Facebook page, with some agreeing that children will not be harmed watching the dissection.

Wallberg Soerensen the lion was put to sleep with a bolt pistol to prevent inbreeding. He added “it is better to have space to promote the breeding of animals than securing for an individual who is inbred.”

Each year, thousands of animals are euthanized in European zoos for poor health, old age, lack of space or conservation management reasons. Zoo managers say their job is to preserve species, not individual animals.

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