El Salvador: Hippo Gustavito dies after a brutal attack in national zoo

Mar 01, 2017, 00:32

"Here we're used to seeing the dead every day", said Martin Castillo, a street vendor in central San Salvador. Henriquez said that injuries on the hippo's feet likely occurred when the animal attempted to defend himself.

Zoo keepers did not realize that the animal had been injured until Thursday, however, when he started acting strangely, refusing to eat and spending most of his time curled up in his pool of water.

El Salvador is one of the world's most violent countries, recording 5,278 homicides a year ago - an average of 14 people killed every single day. To put all that in perspective, it was a momentous occasion when El Salvador went 24 hours without a single killing in mid-January.

Despite pervasive gang activity that has numbed many Salvadorans to violence, Gustavito's death shocked a nation. The 15-year-old hippopotamus died Sunday after veterinarians worked on him in the days after the attack to save its life, noted CNN.

"They kill us like flies, but this tops it all".

Officials said they found pieces of metal and rocks inside the hippo's enclosure.

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Security has been stepped up at the zoo - but the perpetrators are still at large.

Zoo director Vladlen Hernandez was devastated by Gustavito's passing, telling the BBC the hippo "generated empathy".

Some people left flowers at the zoo's gate, the Associated Press reported. The hashtags #Gustavito and #todossomosgustavito (We are all Gustavito) spread worldwide as more people learned of the incident.

Justice minister Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde said an investigation has been launched.

"The zoo's employees had great empathy for him, he generated empathy", Hernandez said, according to BBC News.

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