In the city of San Salvador, in El Salvador, the rise of brutal gang violence in recent years just reached one of the most vulnerable victims, when the National Zoo’s beloved hippo Gustavito was beaten to death last week. The hippopotamus died on Sunday night. Even with the staggering loss of life to humans caused by the rampant violence, the senseless death of an innocent animal, that brought pleasure to thousands as he quietly frolicked in a zoo’s pool in his enclosure, stirred public outrage.
According to AbcNews, Gustavito was born and raised in Guatemala for two years. He arrived to the El Salvador National Zoo 13 years ago. The hippopotamus suffered “multiple blows on different parts of his body” from “blunt and sharp objects” in Tuesday’s attack, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement. Two days after the attack, the staff noticed Gustavito had been spending most of his time under water in his enclosure and had stopped eating. When examined, veterinarians discovered the hippo suffered from “bruises, lacerations on the head and body, cramps and abdominal pain.” A necropsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of the animal’s death.
And that wasn’t all. Vladen Henriquez, the zoo director, stated the hippo had injuries to his feet, wounds on his cheek which were indicative of having been attacked with an ice pick and injuries inside of his mouth most likely inflicted as Gustavito tried desperately to defend himself. Pieces of metal and rocks were found in his enclosure.
Salvadorans have been sending their sympathies through social media and have left flowers at the zoo’s gate. An investigation continues. Rest in peace Gustavito. (Photos of hippo courtesy of El Salvador’s Cultural Ministry)
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