Police are appealing for information after a group of boys attacked a pregnant hedgehog in Hertfordshire.
Several youths, thought to be aged between 12 and 13, were seen kicking the hedgehog and throwing stones at it in Shenley.
The boys were seen attacking the animal on Porters Park Drive, close to the junction with Tagalie Place at 7pm on Monday (25 June).
Two passers-by intervened and the youths made off down an alleyway while hurling abuse, police said.
The hedgehog was taken to a rescue centre for treatment, where it was discovered the animal was pregnant.
She had suffered a number of serious injuries including the loss of sight in one of her eyes, spinal damage, a broken leg, fractured jaw and a laceration to her jaw.
The injured hedgehog gave birth to three hoglets but, sadly, one was stillborn.
PC Dan Hill said: "Thankfully two passers-by intervened as I doubt this hedgehog would have survived the attack otherwise."
Vets found that the hedgehog was microchipped and checks revealed that she was born at a rescue centre last year after her mother was injured. They had been released back into the wild in October.
"We are a nation of animal lovers so I'm sure that many of you will be appalled by this incident.
"I would like to reassure the local community that we do take animal cruelty seriously and the Rural Operational Support Team, who specialise in dealing with rural and wildlife crime, will be assisting us with this investigation," PC Hill said.
Hertfordshire Police are appealing for dash cam footage or CCTV or any other information that could help identify the group of boys.
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