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So they had arranged a study session—bringing coffee, reference books, and a laptop whose screen image was now projected onto a wall, just above a stuffed lion.

They had cued up a You Tube video of a previous lion dissection at Odense.“It’s not really different from a rat, except the size,” Jepsen said.“There’s more cutting,” Dahl said.

Giraffes are easy to like—in part for seeming so unassuming about their height advantage—and the international zoo industry couldn’t dismiss the Copenhagen Zoo as a renegade operation.Next door, there was a room packed with the remains of horses; the zoo had euthanized the animals after they were donated by members of the public.(These deliveries had peaked at the start of the year, suggesting that end-of-life decisions had been deferred until after Christmas.) The lion’s tongue was lolling out of its mouth, from which a few drops of viscous blood had spilled to the ground.Then the women would cut into the lion, working from the tail to the head. ” Jepsen asked, holding a pencil in the air.“We should definitely take the kidneys out, and the liver.”“And the spleen,” Jepsen said, grudgingly, as if the organ were not important enough to be included in the dissection.“Cut larynx off,” Dahl said, summarizing the end of the process. Here, two days earlier, I had seen the lion in a walk-in freezer, alongside trays of rats, a sitatunga, and a severed giraffe leg, upright in a corner.The lion, nine months old when it died, looked a little compressed by gravity and bloodlessness, and its fur had an infant paleness; it could have almost been a shorn sheep. Now it lay on a pallet on the concrete floor of a small, bare room that is normally used to prepare food for the zoo’s carnivores.

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