Zoo hippo beaten to death in 'inhumane attack'

Gustavito was born in neighboring Guatemala, but arrived in El Salvador 13 years ago.

The attack occurred last week, but zoo keepers did not discover the hippo's injuries until Thursday because he did not leave his pool.

The Washington Post reports that the hippo's death has enraged citizens, who are living in a country that recorded 5,278 homicides in 2016 and has an average of 14 deaths every day. Most of the killings have been blamed on powerful street gangs.

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For more than a decade, he was one of the main attractions at the national zoo, located in the capital, San Salvador. The animal died from his injuries late on Sunday (27 February). Gustavito was 15 years old at the time he was beaten to death by one or more assailants.

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

CCTV cameras at the zoo don't overlook the hippo's enclosure.

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The Ministry of Culture said in a statement that veterinarians determined Gustavito was suffering from "bruises, lacerations on the head and body, craps and abdominal pain".

Officials said they found pieces of metal and rocks inside the hippo's enclosure. The injuries to his mouth, zoo director Vladan Henriquez said, likely came as he tried to defend himself. As a result of the attack, authorities have doubled the security at the zoo.

Salvadorans mourned through social media and some left flowers at the gate of the zoo, which has been closed until further notice. Gustavito was "clearly in great distress", BBC reported.

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Many are calling for investigation into conditions at the zoo to determine how an attack of this nature could happen so easily, while on Twitter others have simply been posting: "Forgive us Gustavito".