Rafael Toro, a student of the most important veterinary school in Venezuela, suspected that something was not wrong when a beloved girl called Miss Congeniality did not greet him on the fence a recent morning, like the other members of the small herd at the center.
The bright-eyed lamp had earned her pseudonym to help disabled students overcome their fear of riding. They say she was smart and even pulled when they called her with her name.
To his surprise, Toro discovered the animal's skin and its bones were hidden hidden among the trees in the grass of a corner of the campus of the city of Maracas, in the center of Venezuela. During the night, the thieves jumped the fence, killed the horse and took their meat either to sell it or to feed their hungry families.
"I flew to tears," said Toros, who gave the macabre news to the other students. "We all came here, everyone was shouting."
Murder is not an isolated incident. In view of the economic collapse and excessive inflation in what was once a prosperous oil nation, residents are having trouble buying the rarely available food, and the crime caused by hunger and despair is increasing.
Breeders across the country complain that their herds are facing the same fate. References to local media, depicted with grotesque images of dismantled animals, showed that small groups of men were smuggled with stolen horse meat.
Professors of the University of Venezuela's Central University campus at Maracay complain that the thieves took the air conditioners and electric cables, forcing them to teach lessons in the dark and with sweat running under their backs.
The robbers seem to have focused their attention now on the sacrifice of horses and other vital animals for learning the nation's next generation of vets.
The meat of an adult horse can reach $ 1,400 on the market, based on Venezuela's beef price, making it profitable in a country where the worker's monthly minimum wage is below $ 10, according to the rhythm used in the black market.
Months before the disappearance of Miss Eugene, the thieves killed two horses that were given to the university and quarantined in a nearby pasture, Torro explained. By the end of 2016, seven cows, including a precious bull that was the center of the center's breeding program, were slaughtered by robbers who glide on the campus taking advantage of the night.
"Such a loss is also quite expensive," said Professor Daniel Vargas, who oversees the bovine program of the university.
Traditionally, Venezuelans have been reluctant to eat horse meat, which makes recent events particularly worrying, say masters who suspect that customers buy the product from their butchers believing it to be beef.
The school mentions each case, but at the moment the police did not arrest any suspect. The budget of the school has been frozen for more than a decade, causing the guards to leave their seats to leave the center at the mercy of the criminals, university officials said.
"It could be something inside or something outside," said Isis Vivas, dean of the veterinary school, "Everything is Possible."
Toro, who has loved animals since he was a child and plans to graduate next year, believes that Miss Conicity was chosen from the small flock of five horses. She was four years old and she is plump and her best.
Before the tragic loss he kept his skull so that future generations of students could continue to learn from it, such as measuring the age of an equine by examining his teeth.
"Someone would have liked to stay here in school, that he had left offspring, but I'm sorry, it was not like that," said Toro.