According to the Associated Press, a nationally adored 15-year-old hippo named Gustavito died on Sunday night at El Salvador’s National Zoo after being brutally beaten on Tuesday. The zoo remains closed while police search for the perpetrators.
The BBC reports cuts and bruises caused by “blunt and sharp objects” were found all over the animal’s body, including inside his mouth, indicating he was beaten while he tried to defend himself. Metal and rock that should not have been there were found inside the hippo enclosure after the attack. Authorities said it was one of the most inhumane and cowardly acts they’d ever seen.
Despite the fact he’d stopped coming to eat his food, zookeepers only noticed something was wrong with Gustavito on Thursday because he spent all of Wednesday underwater - an unusual habit for him. Police believe someone (or a group of people) entered Gustavito’s enclosure on Wednesday night and attacked him. They are investigating both the public and zoo employees alike.
Gustavito has been one of the zoo’s main attractions since he was bought from Guatemala twelve years ago, CNN reports. El Salvador, which has been ravaged by violence for years, has been mourning him on social media since news of his passing.
- Diego Echegoyen (@diegoechegoyen) February 27, 2017
- Gigi Perla (@gigiips22) February 27, 2017
Zoo director Vladlen Hernandez was devastated by Gustavito’s passing, telling the BBC the hippo “generated empathy.” Gustavito was buried immediately.
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