A six-month waiting list has been created by Copenhagen Zoo for equine owners keen to feed their horse carcasses to lions.
Horse owners are enticed by the “cheaper and more natural” – and free – choice of donating deceased animals to zoos, reports Denmark’s TV2.
The more expensive alternative is to have animal carcasses collected and recycled by a private organisation which can cost around 3,700 krone ($584; £443).
Apparently, Autumn is an especially busy time.
“It’s often due to the old horses being given a last summer in pasture,” Jacob Munkholm Hoeck, head of communications for Copenhagen Zoo, told NetAvisen.
The horse owners are also motivated to give their animals as the zoo provides a free pick-up for the deceased horses.
The horse meat is so plentiful that this is now part of the lions’ daily diet. Other large beasts benefitting from the feast include brown bears and tigers.
Variety of meat fed to lions
The large cats’ diet also includes rabbits, calves, goats and zebra. Polar bears are not given equine meat as they might contract horse herpes after eating the horse flesh.
The decision to give their dead equines to zoos is not taken lightly by owners, who believe it is better than turning their animals into products such as meatballs or biodiesel. “The horses are our one and everything. It’s all very emotional,” horse owner Karina Fisker told TV2.
“For me, it’s 75 percent economics and 25 percent ethical. When horses are eaten by lions they become part of the food chain. When Daka collects a horse, it can take up to a week, and the horse can begin to decompose. That is disgusting,” she added.
“Often, older horses have had their last summer on the grass, and when they have to go back into stables, owners consider whether the time has come for them to be put down. Then they call us,” Hoeck said.