Country Horrified by Beating Death of Beloved Hippo
Gustavito was killed after brutal beating at El Salvador's national zoo
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 28, 2017 1:31 AM CST
Gustavito is fed at the San Salvador zoo in El Salvador.   (Canal 9)

(Newser) – El Salvador's widespread violence reached an unexpected corner with the brutal and fatal beating of the national zoo's beloved hippopotamus Gustavito. Even among a population numbed by a staggering human death toll due to gang violence in recent years, the animal's death late Sunday stirred outrage. Salvadorans mourned through social media and some left flowers at the gate of the zoo, which has been closed until further notice. "Here we're used to seeing the dead every day," a street vendor in the capital's historic downtown tells the AP. "They kill us like flies, but this tops it all. They killed an animal that only entertained us."

Zoo director Vladan Henriquez said at a news conference that the hippo was covered with bruises and puncture wounds after apparently being attacked with metal bars, knives, and rocks. The attack occurred last week, sometime Tuesday night, but zookeepers didn't discover the hippo's injuries until Thursday when he didn't leave his pool. Gustavito died from the injuries late Sunday. Justice Minister Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde says an investigation has been opened. (Fear of gang violence has made many of the country's women afraid to be blonde.)

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