Employees made a grisly discovery in the guinea pig pen at the Valley Zoo in Edmonton Wednesday morning.
Sixty-five guinea pigs were found dead in their pen from what zoo officials are calling a deliberate poisoning.
“This is a very serious matter and while the cause of death is still being determined, the fact that many of these died almost simultaneously is suspicious,” said Dean Treichel, the zoo’s operations supervisor.
“We believe the animals died after eating poisoned oranges that were placed in the animals’ enclosure.”
Treichel said the animals were checked in the evening, as per zoo protocol, and were all still alive at that time.
“When the animals were checked the following morning, 64 were dead and eight were alive,” he said.
“One of the eight passed away later in the morning, leaving behind seven of the animals.”
Zoo employees called police shortly after making the discovery.
“Toxicology tests are being done and they’ll take a while to complete,” said Patrycia Thenu, a police spokesperson.
The maximum charge in a case like this would be cruelty to animals and possibly trespassing or break and entering, said police.