Gustavito the Hippo was a beloved denizen of El Salvador's National Zoological Park for more than 12 years, ever since he was just three years old.
And he was taken away in just one act of cruelty.
In one of the most shocking crimes we've heard of in some time, unknown assailants broke into his enclosure on Wednesday night and beat him with sharp and blunt objects.
On Thursday, the zoo staff noticed Gustavito's unusually sluggish behavior and took him to veterinarians, who found "bruises, lacerations on the head and body, cramps and abdominal pain."
They also found stab wounds on his cheeks that may have been from an ice pick and additional injuries inside his mouth -- which they believe show Gustavito was trying to defend himself.
Despite the best efforts of medical staff, Gustavito died on Sunday, leaving a country to mourn on Twitter:
[Image via La Secretaría de Cultura de la Presidencia.]