'Revulsion' as hippo dies after El Salvador zoo attack

'Revulsion' as hippo dies after El Salvador zoo attack

The hippo was born and raised in Guatemala, but was brought to El Salvador 13 years ago.

Street vendor Martin Castillo said: "Here we're used to seeing the dead every day". The zoo is temporarily closed, and zookeepers said they would perform a necropsy to determined how exactly the animal died.

With over 5,200 homicides last year recorded last year, El Salvador is one of the most violent countries in the world. Many of those gang members returned to the country after El Salvador's civil war ended in 1992.

Culture minister Silvia Regalado said she "deeply and profoundly" regretted the situation, while the head of El Salvador's Zoological Foundation, Mauricio Velasquez, said: "We find it hard to believe that someone is capable of doing that to a defenceless animal". Gustavito survived for four days, before eventually succumbing to his injuries late on Sunday. Authorities also discovered pieces of metal and rock's inside of the hippo's cage area.

Unknown assailants are believed to have sneaked into the zoo at night over the weekend and brutally assaulted the animal with sharp weapons and blunt tools. When keepers investigated, they found that Gustavito had wounds and bruising on his face, neck, feet, and even inside his mouth.

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Some people left flowers at the zoo's gate, the Associated Press reported.

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

She added that since 2009 the zoo has suspended the practice of buying exotic species and that, following this event, no more large animals will be introduced.

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