Harare, Zimbabwe - An independent animal welfare group says it is filing cruelty charges against the veterinary teaching department at Zimbabwe's main university after three emaciated, ailing and distressed horses were killed using an ax and a knife.

The Veterinarians for Animal Welfare organization said Wednesday the heavily indebted university lacked expertise, equipment and drugs to put down the animals humanely. The horses were taken to a zoo outside Harare last month where their carcasses were fed to lions.

It said a stun gun failed to knock out the horses and they were struck on the head with the blunt edge of a heavy farm ax. They were not dead -their eyelids were still fluttering - when their throats were cut, the group said. Cruelty charges carry the penalty of a fine. - Sapa-AP