Children were left traumatized after they watched in horror as a barn owl was eaten by a lion during a bird of prey demonstration. (Daily Mail By RiCHARD HARTLEY-PARKINSON)
They were watching the display with a handler at Colchester Zoo, Essex, when the bird of prey flew over the lion enclosure.
As it did, a female lion pawed the owl, called Ash, out of the sky and a male lion pounced, eating the bird as children and their parents watched.
There was little that zoo keepers could do other than clear the area of people and move the crowd on.
Gavin Duthie, of Colchester, witnessed the incident with his two-year-old son.
He said: ‘Daniel was in tears along with most of the people who were there. Women and children were screaming but it was all over in seconds.
‘It’s in the lion’s nature – I have taught Daniel that lions are not fluffy animals.
‘He was very upset, but we will be back to the zoo again.’
Alex Downing, Colchester Zoo’s marketing director, said: ‘We are very sad to report that our little barn owl, Ash, sadly died at the weekend.
‘Everyone is extremely upset but there was nothing anyone could have done.’