The RSPCA has launched an investigation after a fox was found shot at a Kent primary school.
The animal charity was contacted on June 7 after staff at Twydall Primary School in Gillingham found a sick fox in the school's grounds.
Further examination from a vet found the fox had been shot in the abdomen and face, and it had to be put to sleep because of those injuries. An RSPCA spokesman was "deeply" concerned that the shooting must have taken place in or near a primary school full of children.
RSPCA Inspector Kirsten Ormerod said: "This poor little juvenile fox was found collapsed in the grounds of the school. She was disoriented and dehydrated but I couldn't immediately see any obvious injury.
"However, when I took her to a local vet for a detailed examination, to my horror, X-rays revealed that she had been shot twice - in the abdomen and face.
"The pellet entry wounds had already begun healing so the vet estimated that the fox may have been shot a few days before she was found.
"Following advice from the vet and our local wildlife centre at Mallydams Wood, she was given fluids and pain relief. Unfortunately she deteriorated very quickly and had to be put to sleep. Sadly, given how severe the injury was this poor little fox never reallystood a chance.
"It appears whoever did this would have likely done it deliberately and it is concerning to think someone would want to maliciously injure and kill an animal. Quite apart from the cruelty of shooting an animal and leaving it to suffer a drawn-out, painful death, there is the safety aspect which is very worrying.
"The fact that the shooting must have taken place on or near this primary school full of children deeply concerns us."
Anyone with information is urged to call the RSPCA appeal line on 0300 123.