Gilbert, a favourite zebra sculpture at Marwell Zoo, has been stolen.

Gilbert is the 'poster boy' for a mass art extravaganza taking place in Southampton this summer.

A collection of 150 sculptures is due to form a spectacular free trail across the city, guaranteed to bring smiles to the faces of thousands of people.

Gilbert had already become a huge hit with children and adults while busily promoting Marwell’s Zany Zebras in the run up to the trail.

He was due to visit London Waterloo Station today (Thursday) to promote both the event and the Southampton region but at around 4am on (Wednesday 11 March) the Marwell team were devastated to find that he had been taken from their truck, temporarily parked in the Bassett area of Southampton.

Security tags are planned to be added to all the sculptures next week as a deterrent against future thefts – unfortunately, Gilbert was taken before his could be installed.

The charity is now appealing to fans, followers and friends of Marwell for any information about his whereabouts and they are desperate for his safe return.

Gilbert’s theft is heartbreaking. He’s not only much loved by the Marwell team and local community, but also a beautiful work of art and flagship for Marwell’s Zany Zebras – an event which is certain to put Southampton on the map as a hot spot for tourists this summer.

Kirstie Mathieson, Marwell’s Zany Zebras