El Salvador ranks as one of the world’s most violent countries, but the violence reached a new level when a beloved and helpless hippopotamus at the national zoo in San Salvador died Sunday from injuries he suffered in a brutal beating.
Salvadorans are mourning the loss of Gustavito, a 15-year-old hippo, who was found last Thursday in his pool at the zoo covered in puncture wounds, bruises and lacerations, NBC News reported.
Zoo officials believe he was attacked sometime Tuesday night, beaten with knives, rocks and metal bars, zoo director Vladan Henriquez said at a news conference.
Workers did not notice the hippo was injured right away, until he refused to leave his pool and stopped eating. When they took a closer look, they saw how badly injured he was, including wounds to his feet, the inside of his mouth and his cheek, which Henriquez said happened as he tried to defend himself during the attack.
Zoo officials tried to save the injured animal, but he died from his injuries.
The zoo has remained closed since Gustavito’s death, and authorities are investigating, the BBC reported.
Social media erupted in outrage as word of the hippo’s beating death spread, with tweets like “We want justice,” “Forgive us Gustavito” and “Whoever did this has to pay.”
El Salvador is one of the most violent countries in the world, according to the United Nations, where more than 10 people are killed every day, mostly by criminal street gangs.