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Penguin stolen from German zoo found headless

A penguin stolen from a zoo in the southwestern German city of Mannheim has been found decapitated. Vets have said the injuries may not have been caused by humans, as the body could have attracted scavengers.

Prosecutors in Mannheim have opened an investigation into the disappearance and death of a penguin that was abducted from a zoo on Sunday, police spokesman Michael Klump said.

The animal was found on Thursday lying dead in a parking lot, with its head removed.

"We're all in shock," Alexandra Wind, spokeswoman for the Luisenpark animal park, told German news service DPA. "We had hoped to the last ... now things have unfortunately come to a sad end."

Police said veterinarians were now in the process of examining the 5-kilogram, 60-centimeter-tall animal's body, which was identified by the number 53 on its wing.

"The time of death and potential actions of a third party are being investigated," spokeswoman Wind said.

Reward offered

Police launched a search for the penguin, known as a South American Humboldt, shortly after its disappearance was noticed. The bird, which was just 10 months old, was found dead in the car park near the zoo by a passerby.

"It looks as though the perpetrator got rid of the animal there. It is not clear whether the penguin was still alive at the time," police in the city of Mannheim said in a statement.

Animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has offered a 1,000-euro ($1,070) reward for any information on the killer.

"We hope this brutal act can be cleared up and the animal abuser convicted," said Peter Höffken of PETA's German office in Stuttgart.

Humboldt penguins are an endangered species in the wild. They live mainly on the Pacific coast of Peru and northern Chile. Their nearest relatives are African penguins.

jbh/kl (dpa, AP)

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