Brazilian police are fighting a desperate battle against time to save the lives of thousands of animals threatened by a merciless serial killer.
Since 24 January, Sao Paulo zoo has lost three chimapanzees, three tapirs, a trio of camels and an elephant. All apparently succumbed to rat poison.
The death toll mounted yesterday when an orangutan, bison and camel were found dead at the attraction. Chillingly, Brasilia's zoo is also investigating the deaths on 9 January of two kangaroos, Jumper and Lucky - although neither is currently jumping nor particularly lucky, it must be said.
In every case the poison used contained sodium fluoroacetate, a banned toxin. Police suspect, therefore, that the killer may have some chemical knowledge.
We at Vulture Central reckon that he or she might in addition have an alphabetical guide to animals of the world, given that 12 of the victims began with the letters "a", "b", "c" or "e". No mistake here: the terrifying truth is that the tapir is known locally as the anta do Brasil, while the kangaroo is rendered in Portuguese as canguru.
OK, we're prepared to concede that the untimely demise of the orangutan (orangotango) is a serious anomaly, but in the absence of any other leads might we suggest that police throw an immediate defensive cordon around every ferret (furão), chicken (galinha) and hippo (hipopótamo) in the land, while safely diverting much-needed security resources from the xarroco (toadfish) enclosure. ®