Danish Zoo Teaches Children Circle of Life by Slicing Up Lion Cub

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Rasmus Kolind works on the dissection of a lion as zoo visitors look on.Photo: CLAUS FISKER

A fun trip to the zoo should always include at least one dissection of a beloved furry creature, based on the grossed-out faces of the children watching a Danish zoo dissect a lion cub.

Odense Zoo, north of Copenhagen, dissected a young lion on Thursday, pulling out, as the Associated Press describes, “its blood-red organs” for all the kids to gawk at. Because this is educational, the children, perhaps already scarred for life, are encouraged to ask questions. The dissection was intentionally scheduled for a school holiday so children could attend. 

The lion, along with its two siblings, were put down back in February. The zoo noted that the animals were becoming sexually active; there were concerns about inbreeding. 

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Photo: CLAUS FISKER

Zoo dissections are something of a nationally sanctioned educational tool in Denmark. “Dissections are an old Danish tradition going back 400 years,” a professor of bioethics at the University of Copenhagen pointed out to The Guardian, “and taking a trip to see something like this is a typical thing to do with school-aged children in the holidays – it can open their eyes to the world of science.”

There is a fine line when it comes to which animals are used for public “teaching” moments. Last year, the Copenhagen Zoo, about 80 miles south of the Odense Zoo, notoriously killed a giraffe with a shotgun and fed it to the zoo’s lions.

Pushback to this particular dissection has been limited to animal activist groups like Europe’s Humane Society, which accuses zoos of intentionally over-breeding animals to create “surplus” for extracurricular moments. A heated discussion erupted on the Odense Zoo Facebook page, where Danish supporters of the dissection basically told English detractors that they’re naïve wimps. “Life isn’t the Disney Channel,” one Dane wrote. “Get over it …