LANGLEY, B.C. -- Dozens gathered outside the entrance to the Greater Vancouver Zoo on Sunday to protest the death of a moose in captivity there earlier this week.

The group used signs, megaphones and speeches to create awkward moments for arriving weekend visitors.

“We came here today to protest the tragic life and horrible death of Oakleaf,” said protest organizer David Isbister.

Oakleaf was an eight-year-old moose that, after 6-months of poor health, was put down at the zoo on Wednesday.

She was not eating well, according to the zoo’s veterinarian, and staff at the facility said they had exhausted all options to help her get better.

“The decision was difficult, but it was the right decision to make,” said Dr. Bruce Burton, the zoo’s veterinarian.

Photos that appear to show Oakleaf looking abnormally thin shocked many after they were posted on social media on Tuesday.

The images led to calls for an investigation by the Vancouver Humane Society, which had alleged the zoo was failing its animals in January.

At the same time, a former zoo employee who asked not to be named because she feared backlash told CTV News Vancouver she left the facility in frustration after six months on the job.

“I had worked at previous zoos before and I am very disappointed with the care and animal welfare at this facility,” the former employee said. “It was very draining, because I cared about the animals and there was only so much I could do.”

However, on Friday, the staff in charge of the zoo defended their practices.

“We’re doing our best with the animals to provide excellent health and welfare for the animals we have in our collection,” said animal care manager Menita Prasad.

GVZ’s general manager Serge Lussier added he has appreciation and confidence in his zoo keepers.

“One thing that I see day after day is that they love their animals and the best of care is not given every week, it’s given every minute of every day,” he said.

On Sunday, protesters pointed to the other animals that have died at the zoo in the past, and said it is time for the zoo to shut down.

“We want them to phase out their captivity and transfer animals to sanctuaries that are better suited for each individual species and stop this absolute horror that has been going on for well over a quarter century here,” said Isbister.

The zoo remained open for the day despite the protesters present.