A beloved hippopotamus has died in agonizing pain at a zoo in Germany after swallowing a tennis ball he apparently thought was an apple.
Maikel, 39, collapsed and died in the water of his enclosure last Thursday morning, and his lifelong partner was swimming over his body several times, trying to nudge him to get up, according to the Daily Mail.
Zoo staff later found the ball, which they believe was thrown into his enclosure by a tourist, had blocked the hippo’s intestine and killed him.
“He died a very painful death,” said pathologist Dr. Anne Nesseler, who performed an autopsy on the 4409-pound animal. “It was an immensely stupid and immensely cruel thing to do, feed a tennis ball to an animal like this.”
According to the Express.co.uk, now a special crime squad had been charged by Frankfurt police to investigate the death and prosecute Maikel’s killer under animal protection laws.
“The enquiry is continuing,” Virgine Wegner, a police spokeswoman, said.
At the age of 3, Maikel was brought from his native Amsterdam to Frankfurt and had spent most of his life there with his partner, Petra, news.de reports.
(via Daily Mail)