Five young migrant men in the southwest German town of Rastatt kicked a hedgehog to death after using it as a football in the gardens of the local baroque palace, local news portal Karlsruhe Insider reports.
Anja Starck, the director in charge of the hedgehog rescue station Karlsruhe, said it was difficult to control her feelings about what happened to the defenseless creature.
“I’m pissed off,” she told German newspaper Badische Neuste Nachricthen.
The incident started last week when Victoria Qui was walking with her young son saw at 9:30 p.m. on Monday, when she five migrants using a hedgehog as a football as they kicked it through the meadow of the park.
In a post to Facebook, Qui wrote, “They kicked the hedgehog around like a soccer ball.”
Her young son began crying when he saw what happened to the animal. Furious with what was happening, Qui confronted the migrants who only laughed at her.
“They laughed at me…. My son cried for the hedgehog, but also out of fear…. I had my dogs lay down next to the hedgehog who was bleeding,” she wrote.
After she sent her son home to tell her husband what had happened, then youths began to encircle her in a threatening manner.
Despite fearing for her safety, Qui refused to leave the injured hedgehog by itself.
“I couldn’t go either. They would have continued to kick the hedgehog. They made half-circle around me and spoke in a language I didn’t understand. I expected the worse for myself,” she wrote.
Qui then screamed at them that she was going to call the police and the migrant youths then fled.
She wrapped the hedgehog up and immediately brought it to the hedgehog rescue station in Bischweier.
Starck, who took the hedgehog from the woman, said it was “bleeding from its mouth” when it arrived at her clinic. She gave the animal painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication to relieve its suffering.
The hedgehog managed to survive the first night but on the second night, its health deteriorated dramatically due to internal injuries it suffered. The next morning, Starck decided to put the animal to sleep.
“We tried to save him,” the director of the hedgehog clinic said.
Police open investigation into killing of hedgehog
Police have opened investigations after the post went viral on social media.
“There has been no official announcement so far, we are investigating on our own,” said a spokesman for the Offenburg police headquarters.
The parks department is entrusted to investigate the matter. So far, however, there suspects have not been arrested.
According to Starck, this was not the first case of this kind that she came across.
“It doesn’t happen often, but something like that happens every now and then,” she says.
This is not even the first case of a migrant using a hedgehog as a football, with a 49-year-old Turkish male kicking a hedgehog death in Augsburg in 2014, according to a report from the Augsburger Allgemeine.
She paid a lot of respect to the woman who passed by and tried to stop the youths.
“Hats off to the woman! Finally, someone shows civil courage,” she said.
Numerous Facebook users who have commented on the woman’s contribution come into the same horn. “Very brave!”, “Great of you” or “Thank you, thank you, thank you for your commitment” – these are the contributions.
Qui responded by writing, “It was not brave… Maybe it was even careless of me. Who knows what could have happened but whoever has a heart in the right place would have done the same. Acting like that is a matter of course for me, and I would do it again and again.”
Hedgehogs are not only beloved in Germany but also animals that are protected by the Federal Nature Conservation Act. The animals are considered a vital part of natural habitats and are already severely threatened in the Germany. In countries like the United Kingdom, hedgehogs levels were estimated at 30 million in the 1950s. That number has dropped to one million in the last years.