The Americas

Authorities investigate killing of hippo at El Salvador zoo

In this frame grab from video taken on March 10, 2014 and released by El Salvador's Canal 9, a hippopotamus named Gustavito is fed at the San Salvador Zoo in El Salvador. Zoo director Vladan Henriquez said at a news conference on Monday, Feb. 27, 2017 that the animal was covered with bruises and puncture wounds after apparently being attacked with metal bars, knives and rocks. The attack occurred on Tuesday night, Feb. 21, 2017. Zookeepers did not discover the hippo’s injuries until Thursday because he did not leave his pool, and he died late Sunday, Feb. 26. (Canal 9 via AP) NO PUBLICAR EN EL SALVADOR

In this frame grab from video taken on March 10, 2014 and released by El Salvador's Canal 9, a hippopotamus named Gustavito is fed at the San Salvador Zoo in El Salvador. Zoo director Vladan Henriquez said at a news conference on Monday, Feb. 27, 2017 that the animal was covered with bruises and puncture wounds after apparently being attacked with metal bars, knives and rocks. The attack occurred on Tuesday night, Feb. 21, 2017. Zookeepers did not discover the hippo’s injuries until Thursday because he did not leave his pool, and he died late Sunday, Feb. 26. (Canal 9 via AP) NO PUBLICAR EN EL SALVADOR  (The Associated Press)

El Salvador's widespread violence has reached an unsuspected 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 killing of Gustavito has stirred outrage.

At a news conference Monday, National Zoo Director Vladan Henriquez said the animal 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.

Zookeepers did not discover the hippo's injuries until Thursday because he did not leave his pool. He died late Sunday.

Salvadorans mourned through social media and left flowers at the zoo's gate.

Justice Minister Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde says an investigation has been opened.