An anti-zoo protest held exactly one week after the death of a male lion who escaped from his enclosure at the Papanack Park Zoo drew dozens Sunday.

Protesters holding signs condemning captivity and calling for the closure of all zoos lined the intersection of County Roads 17 and 19 in Wendover for one hour Sunday, March 6. The protesters urged passing cars to honk in support of their cause.

Organizer Michelle Thorn said she was pleasantly surprised by the turnout.

"The main goal is education and our main message is that animals do not belong in zoos at all, especially wild animals but even domestic animals," said Thorne.

The protest was launched after a male lion, Zeus, was shot and killed after breaching what the zoo calls a "primary perimeter fence." Although the park is closed and there were no members of the public on site at the time, the lion was roaming free on the grounds and the owners said public safety was at risk.

The incident puts a spotlight on what protesters and animal activists have called weak regulations governing the more than 60 zoos in Ontario. It also has reignited the debate over whether wild animals should be kept at all.

"The fact that right at the moment the only animals that are banned are orcas and pit bulls, we think, is ludicrous," said one protester who would only identify himself as Russell.

The Papanak Zoo has failed to returned several requests for comment, but on its Facebook page a co-owner said the incident was a case of "human error."

"The risk to the public of trying to sedate the lion was simply too high as the sedative takes too long too kick in and this would have put everyone at risk," said Kerri Bayford on Facebook.

The zoo has launched a review and will be auditing all of its large carnivore exhibits.

A small group of zoo supporters who dropped by to checkout the protest said last week's incident was a tragic mistake that should not reflect poorly on the zoo's committment to its animals. All said they would continue to keep going back to the zoo that has become a staple in their community.