Zoo slammed for letting children play tug of war with lions

A still from a video which had been filmed of Jasiri the lion during the experience.

A zoo has been blasted for allowing children to play tug of war with lions and tigers as part of a 'human v beast challenge'.

Children as young as eight can take part in the challenge, which launched at Dartmoor Zoo earlier this month.

The game sees four people pitted against one of its big cats in an activity zoo keepers have said the animals find 'enriching'.

The experience costs Sh2,000 per person and is set to help create the 'best welfare possible' for the animals.

A group of people taking part in the 'human vs beast' challenge.

In an advertisement for the experience on the zoo’s Facebook page, it says that 'this type of enrichment is very important to keep the cats fit and healthy'.

Animal rights groups have hit out at the zoo and have said the experience has 'no respect for the animals', while others branded the organisers as 'morons'.

Competitors can take on either the zoo's male tiger Dragan or its male lion Jasirir.

Meat is attached to a rope to bait the animals and when it picks it up the participants, which are on the other side of the fence, take up the other end of rope for a tug-of-war.

Speaking to the Daily Star, senior zoo keeper Simon Moore said this sort of experience is 'essential' for the animals.

He said: "In captivity, it’s essential for us to try to mimic the behaviours to create the best welfare possible.

"We do a lot of enrichment for the cats and this is just one type."

Datmoor Zoo owner Ben Mee posing with one of the zoo's tigers.