SANTIAGO (Reuters) - The carcass of a lion in front Chile's presidential palace surprised passersby on Friday as zoo workers protested against a government agency they blame for the feline's death.
Next to the corpse of Zeus, a 14-year-old male lion, a sign read "The government kills animals" as surprised passersby took photos and videos.
The zoo's owners blame the Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG), which required sedation in order to read animals' microchips.
"SAG forced us to capture and anesthetize all of our animals to read their microchips," said Cesar Chanampa, legal representative for the Los Angeles City Zoo, about 470 kilometers (290 miles) south of Santiago.
"We told them that animals face the same risks from anesthesia as humans do," Chanampa said. "They made us stain our hands with blood."
SAG said in a statement that sedation is standard procedure for the safety of the animal and personnel. "Unfortunately, one of the animals that underwent this procedure died," the statement added.
Chanampa said SAG should have more experienced and competent employees so anesthesia is not required just for reading microchips.
SAG said the protest violated the animal's dignity and that it would consider taking legal action against the zoo, which it accused of "inadequate handling of the animals."
The police cordoned off the area outside the palace and later removed the lion's remains.
(Reporting by Reuters Televison; Writing by Natalia Ramos; Editing by Alexander Villegas and Sandra Maler)