A Danish zoo on Thursday (15 October) dissected a lion in front of 400 people, including many children, in an educational event condemned by animal rights groups. Odense Zoo chief of events, Nina Collatz Christensen, said the event was nothing out of the ordinary for the zoo.

She said: "That's something we've been doing for 20 years. It's not special for today and it's part of our education programme that we do things like this. So it's not unusual, at least for a Danish zoo, to do this and I think also in Sweden it's very normal to show dead animals and what's inside. So it's not special for today."

The nine-month-old lion was one of three that Odense Zoo in central Denmark had to put down earlier this year. The reason the zoo gave was that it had too many big cats and could not find a home for all of them. Since February, the beasts had been kept in a freezer.

The crowd gathered around zoo guide Rasmus Kolind as he began the dissection by cutting off the lion's tongue. Trying to add a bit of humour to the situation, as he proceeded to carve up the carcass, Kolind asked: "Is there anyone who would like an eye?" He then chopped off the head, held it up for everyone to see, and then proceeded to skin it.

Public dissections are commonplace at Danish zoos, where they are seen as educational to children.