Danish Zoo Dissects Female Lion to 'Fascinate' the Public
Despite being petitioned by animal rights activists and wildlife enthusiasts, the Danish zoos maintain their practice of culling perfectly healthy animals for “conservation” reasons and dissecting the carcasses in public for purported educational value.
Odense Zoo, Denmark, has dissected a female lion in front of a live audience to illustrate animal anatomy to the public.
Zola the lion was put down in 2019, because she couldn't come to terms with a new male and couldn't be sold to another zoo. Her 140 kilogram carcass had been preserved in a 12-cubic-metre freezer ever since.
Despite the storm of criticism that first arose in 2014 when Copenhagen Zoo killed a perfectly healthy giraffe named Marius and dissected it in front of children, the director of Odense Zoo has no doubts they're doing the right thing.
“We do it because we want to create more fascination. We are here to create fascination with nature and the adaptations that the lion has made to become the perfect killing machine in its habitat. We really want to tell those stories,” Bjarne Klausen told Danish Radio. “Death and life are a natural part of everyday life, also for human beings. We just put death in the fridge, but getting closer and seeing how the animals work is incredibly important”, he added.
According to zoologist and Odense Zoo deputy director Nina Collatz, this is common practice for both Danish zoos and the local public.
“The Danes are not outraged, and the people of Funen island are used to us dissecting. In the US and many countries in Europe, animals cannot be dissected, so it is special for Denmark and the Nordic countries that we can. At Odense Zoo, we have been doing this for more than 20 years,” Collatz told
Bjarne Klausen concurred that Danes don't find it either frightening or disturbing to see dead animals being cut up.
“I actually think that most Danes think it is enormously exciting, and they are just fascinated by the story that we can tell,” he added.
The gory spectacle was supported in neighbouring Sweden.
“The animal is used for educational purposes. In our opinion, this is not problematic, you invite people who choose to come and watch,” Daniel Roth of the Swedish Zoo Association told national broadcaster SVT. “The view in Denmark is more holistic than in Sweden,” he said, adding that it would be nice if Sweden followed suit. “We don't look at animals in the same way and this means that students are not allowed to share this knowledge, which is unfortunate,” Roth concluded.
Over the years, Danish zoo officials effectively withstood online petitions and complaints from animal rights organisations, insisting that their actions have educational value. The next public lion dissection at Odense Zoo is slated for 5 June.