About 50 protesters gathered along a stretch of highway east of Ottawa on Sunday afternoon near where a lion was shot dead after it escaped its enclosure at the Papanack Zoo a week ago.

Police said an adult male African white lion had escaped and was walking in the unfenced park entrance area.

Officers helped zoo staff contain the animal, but it was shot with a rifle by the zoo owner.

At the time zoo spokesperson Kerri Bayford said sedating the animal would have taken too long and they were worried about public safety. The zoo is located in the community of Wendover.

Protesters waved pictures of the lion at the intersection where Highway 17 meets Highway 19 instead of at the zoo, which is closed in winter.

'Born to be wild'

Tanya Kyssa said she thinks the zoo should be shut down.

"I don't think these roadside zoos should be in existence. It's just in it for the money," she said. "It's not how a wild animal should be ... They're born to be wild, they shouldn't be kept in cages."

The zoo is still investigating what happened.

Bayford said the lion's escape appears to have been caused by human error.

In the past, former employees and the national charity Zoocheck Canada raised concerns about conditions under the zoo's former owners.

Papanack Zoo closure protest Sunday Wendover Ottawa March 6 2016

This protester wore a mask depicting a frowning lion. (CBC News)

Papanack Zoo closure protest Sunday Wendover Ottawa March 6 2016

The frowning lion brought this sign. (CBC News)

Papanack Zoo closure protest Sunday Wendover Ottawa March 6 2016

Organizers didn't hold the protest at the zoo because it's closed to the public during the winter months. (CBC News)

Papanack Zoo closure protest Sunday Wendover Ottawa March 6 2016

"Only these cats entertain me," reads a sign this man brought to the demonstration. (CBC News)

Papanack Zoo closure protest Sunday Wendover Ottawa March 6 2016

The protesters waved their signs at the intersection of Highway 17 and Highway 19, east of Ottawa. (CBC News)

Lion protest

A protester holds up a sign after a lion was shot dead after it escaped its enclosure a week ago. (CBC)