The Copenhagen Zoo, which has already attracted criticism for its euthanization policies, announced on Tuesday that it euthanized four lions -- including two cubs -- as it prepared to bring a new male lion in, the Associated Press reported.

Officials said in a statement that they hoped the male lion would mate with two females born in 2012, creating a new pride around them. The two 10-month-old cubs "would have been killed" by the incoming male, they said, because they were not old enough to fend for themselves. The age of the other two lions was not confirmed, but they were reportedly too old to fit into the "natural structure and behavior" of the new pride.

The zoo created an international uproar last month after staff members euthanized a healthy 18-month-old giraffe, then dissecting it and feeding its remains to lions, all in front of zoo patrons. The giraffe, Marius, was put down to avoid inbreeding, despite online protests and petitions from other zoos and an American billionaire to take over the animal's care.

The treatment of Marius led to zoo director Bengst Holst receiving death threats against both himself and his family.

The Guardian reported, however, that the lions will not be dissected in public.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]