Copenhagen: A lion was on Thursday dissected publicly at Odense Zoo in central Denmark after being euthanised in February due to overcrowding, triggering widespread condemnation.
The lion, which had been kept in a freezer since being euthanised in February, was put down as the zoo's lion population had grown too large, Xinhua news agency reported.
"Of course we do everything we can to avoid putting down animals, and we tried shipping the lion off to other zoos," Michael Wallberg Soerensen, a zoologist at Odense Zoo, was cited as saying.
"But it can be really difficult to make things run smoothly with animals in captivity and space is a limiting factor. And then we are forced to prioritise," he explained.
The dissection has drawn controversy and one of the criticisms is that it may be too violent for children.
Soerensen argued that there is a lot of education involved in dissecting a lion.
"A dissection reveals the lion's anatomy and what makes it a good predator. Children are so curious they practically crawl into the carcass. It's an authentic and scientific experience."
It was echoed by Pernille Haugaard Jensen, Education and Development Manager at the Nature Centre Amager Strand, who said the dissection enhances interest in the natural science, and the children can learn something about how nature is organised.
The practice of zoos putting down healthy animals set off an international media storm in early 2014 when Copenhagen Zoo killed a healthy young giraffe to avoid inbreeding and fed the remains to the lions in the zoo.