Much speculation ensued after a woman stumbled upon a cooked horse head while walking through a New York park.
On Feb. 28, a woman was talking a stroll through Highbridge Park in Manhattan when she saw a cooked horse’s head, fruits, vegetables, soda and the bones of another animal instead a Corona beer box, police said.
Although horse meat is legal to buy and consume in New York state, horse slaughter itself is considered to be inhumane, which has contributed to the underground market in which horse meat is sold, The Daily Beast reports. The last factory to sell horse meat in the United States closed in 2007, which implies that the cooked head was either killed outside of a regulated slaughterhouse or imported.
The Department of Sanitation removed the remains from the area, WNBC News reports. Animal Control and Welfare as well as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were notified, and an investigation is underway.
Although police doubt that any criminal activity played a role in the incident, they are investigating to see if the cooked animal head was part of a spiritual activity connected to Dominican Republic Independence Day, according to The Daily Beast.
Several local residents told WNBC News that Highbridge Park has become a dumping ground for animal remains, allegedly as part of activities relating to the occult, or spiritual rituals.
“I’ve seen a goat’s head before [in this park],” a woman said.
On the same day, the remains of sheep and goats were found in another nearby area, Inwood Hill Park, The Daily Beast notes. According to public record, over a dozen animal carcasses have been found throughout parks in the city for the past two years.
Certain religions, such as Santeria and Vodou, are associated with animal sacrifices as part of their spiritual rituals. However, those associated with the religion have said that discarding animal remains in a public area would be a sign of disrespect and would not be condoned.