For a precious few seconds, the hard work a team of domino fanatics had put into painstakingly setting up more than 4.1 million dominos looked in danger of collapsing before their eyes.
A sparrow had somehow snuck into the hall where the Domino team would look to break the domino world record during a show broadcast live on private German TV channel RTL this Friday. The bird knocked down 23,000 tiles and there was nothing anyone could do.
After calling in an animal expert who tried unsuccessfully to catch the bird, the angry domino fans opted for heavy artillery. A hunter took aim and shot the sparrow, ending the threat to the World Record attempt.
"Regrettably it was the only option," said one of the team members.
But the measure has enraged animal protectionists. Germany's Animal Protection Association cited animal protection laws which allow killing only on "reasonable grounds." A sparrow threatening a hall full of dominos apparently isn't one of them.
RTL said the team did all it could before ending the bird's life. The world record attempt -- during which the domino team will try knock down 3,992,398 of the 4,321,000 tiles set up for the event -- doesn't appear to be in danger.
"We can rebuild everything with a few overtime hours," they said.