Two rare female giraffes have died after vandals broke into a zoo in central Poland.
Officials are now trying to find a companion for their last remaining giraffe - a male.
The break-in at the zoo in Lodz saw signs overturned as well as benches and bins thrown into the animal runs, including one near where the three giraffes were housed.
One of the female giraffes – three-year-old Suri – was found dead early on Sunday, with tests indicating it died of stress and a heart attack, zoo director Ryszard Topola said.
The other female giraffe, six-year-old Hana, was found dead early yesterday. Mr Topola said the sudden stress worsened the animal’s ongoing treatment for parasites.
The two females and the surviving male – Tofik – are from the endangered Rothschild giraffe sub-species. The zoo’s goal had been for the animals to bond over a period of years, and to hopefully mate.
“This is a very sad occurrence to us, a great loss,” Mr Topola said.
The head of the zoo’s breeding section, Wlodzimierz Stanislawski, said management is checking with other European zoos to see they can provide a companion for Tofik.
“It is a tough task because there are not many available female Rothschild giraffes in zoos, but we will try to fill in this sudden gap,” Mr Stanislawski said.
Meanwhile, city authorities and the national Animal Guard watchdog organisation have offered a 5,000 zloty (€1,165) reward for any clues that help find the culprits.
Investigators also are trying to find out why the zoo’s security guards did not call police until hours after the intruders had left the facility, which is not equipped with CCTV cameras.