Beloved hippo Gustavito dies after beating in El Salvador zoo

Miranda GreerMar 01, 2017

Gustavito is fed at the San Salvador Zoo in El Salvador as seen in a screen grab from 2014.

"Here we're used to seeing the dead every day", said Castillo, "They kill us like flies, but this tops it all". In 2015, the country of 6 million people recorded more than 6600 homicides, giving it the worst murder rate in the western hemisphere. El Salvador, which has been ravaged by violence for years, has been mourning him on social media since news of his passing.

Salvadoran officials said someone had probably entered Gustavito's enclosure on Tuesday night and beaten him with "blunt and sharp objects". Powerful street gangs have been blamed for most of the killings.

The serious wounds led to problems eating, and the hippo eventually died late last night, after four days of suffering. "They killed an animal that only entertained us".

The attack happened on Saturday at the National Zoo of El Salvador.

Staff had noticed on Thursday that the hippo was displaying unusual behavior - spending most of the day under water in his enclosure.

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

Rocks and pieces of metal were found in the area, they added. Some people left flowers for Gustavito at the zoo's gate.

In the wake of the attack, the zoo closed its doors and doubled security.

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".

The attack on Gustavito was "cowardly and inhumane", the Ministry of Culture said in a statement, according to the BBC.

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