A hedgehog was stabbed to death after being "kicked about" near a school.
The animal was found with multiple stab wounds outside Brannock High School in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, Scotland, on Tuesday.
It was taken to a vet in a bid to save it, but the tiny defenceless creature died from its injuries.
An investigation into the incident has been launched by Police Scotland and the Scottish SPCA.
Young people have been accused of the crime.
Motherwell District Wildlife Protection shared the tragic story on social media.
"Just picked this wee hedgehog up from a local high school where kids thought it would be a good idea to kick it about and stab," it wrote after discovering the injured hedgehog," it wrote in a heartbreaking Facebook post.
"It's now in a local vet. Don't know the sex, if it's female we need to look for any young."
But, sadly, it later added: "The vet phoned and said she died of multiple stab wounds. All wounds have been photographed.
"Police are involved and are coming out to see us. The poor thing suffered terribly."
Police Scotland is investigating the incident, according to the SPCA.
"We have received a report of an injured hedgehog being found at Brannock High School on Tuesday May 18," a police spokesperson said.
"Inquiries into the incident are at an early stage."
A spokesperson for North Lanarkshire Council confirmed it had also been informed and would be looking into the death.
"We are aware of an alleged incident at the school and will be carrying out an investigation in order to determine the full facts," he said.
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In November last year, tougher measures to tackle animal cruelty were introduced in Scotland.
The maximum jail sentence for offenders was increased from 12 months to five years, with courts given powers to impose unlimited fines for the most serious cases.
The new rules are part of The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Act, which was passed on November 30.
In addition, Scotland has now adopted Finn's Law, which makes it harder for those who harm service animals to claim they were acting in self-defence.
The law is named after police dog Finn, who was stabbed and seriously injured while protecting handler, PC Dave Wardell, from an attacker in Hertfordshire in 2016.
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