Zoo workers placed the body of the 14-year-old male lion Zeus in front of the presidential palace in Santiago in Chile on Friday because they blame the government for the death of the lion. Next to his corpse was a sign that read “The government kills animals”.
The lion died at the Los Angeles Zoo in Bío Bío after being sedated for a checkup by the Chilean Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG). “SAG forced us to capture and anaesthetize all of our animals to read their microchips,” César Chanampa, owner of the zoo, said.
“Organisms react differently to sedation. The same happens with our little animal friends. The difference is that you can’t take an electrocardiogram or a blood test (from animals) before sedating them, that’s the problem,” Chanampa said. “We told them that animals face the same risks from anaesthesia as humans.”
“So they (SAG) strictly – pardon the expression – order us to sedate the animals, and they made us stain our hands with blood,” he added. A veterinarian sedated four pumas and six lions; lion Zeus died.
In a statement, SAG said that sedating lions and other animals at a zoo is standard procedure in Chile to protect the safety personnel and the animal: “Unfortunately, one of the animals (lion Zeus) that underwent this procedure died.”
Chanampa argued that SAG should have more experienced and competent employees, so anaesthesia is not required just for reading microchips.
SAG said bringing the dead body of a lion for a protest was disrespectful to the animal’s life and that it would consider taking legal action against the zoo, which it accused of “inadequate handling of their animals.”
The body of Zeus was first visible to the public, but later his body was covered with an orange cloth. The police later removed the lion’s remains.