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Two men who broke into Hampshire's Marwell Zoo and terrorised animals by throwing bottles at giraffes have been found guilty.
Nathan Daniels, 21, and Bradley Green, 23, appeared at Winchester Crown Court on Thursday December 22, pleading guilty for criminal damage to the zoo.
In February 2021, the pair cut the barbed wire fence at Marwell Zoo before going on a night-time rampage and attacking various animals.
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Video evidence of the break-in was uploaded to social media, appearing to show a bottle being thrown at a giraffe's head. The abuse of a tiger was also filmed, allegedly coaxed to approach a fence before being kicked at and scared off.
Marwell Zoo has been a popular family destination since its opening in 1972. The zoo has been home to giraffes and tigers since its conception, as well as several endangered species, such as Southern White Rhinoceros, Amur Leopards, Giant Anteaters and Pygmy hippos.
Fearing for the life of its endangered animals, a full team of police were mobilised to catch the gang, including armed response officers with night vision goggles, a dog unit, and a helicopter.
Previously, the court heard the intruders had cut through a 'double chain link fence' before entering. But the prosecuting, David Fosler, reported to magistrates: 'The zoo's general maintenance manager found that an internal fence had been cut in a vertical line.
Mr Fosler noted that the barbed wire fence had also been cut and several animal enclosures were interfered with.
'The zoo's keepers say the animals were very distressed, particularly the giraffes, cheetahs and tigers,' he explained.
Green pleaded guilty to damaging an enclosure containing giraffes, and Daniels admitted to damaging the penguins' enclosure. Green has also admitted causing animal cruelty.
Basingstoke Magistrates' Court heard that many of the zoo animals were left 'very distressed' by the raid – especially the giraffes, cheetahs and tigers.
Charges of burglary and criminal damage were also raised against Jason Huggitt, 24, and Coral Lock, 23 – friends accused of assisting the duo. These charges were dropped.
Daniels and Green have been released on unconditional bail, awaiting sentencing at Winchester Crown Court in January. The pair were warned that non-attendance would be regarded as a further criminal offence.
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