Boys, 11 and 12, arrested after animals killed at college - with owl escaping

Two boys aged 11 and 12 have been arrested after police received reports that several animals had been killed at a college in west London.

The children, who have been released on bail, were arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty and burglary.

The Metropolitan Police said it was called to an incident at Capel Manor College's Gunnersbury Park campus at the weekend.

The force said: "On Sunday 25 February we received a report that several animals had been killed and animal closures had been damaged at Capel Manor College.

"Officers visited the scene and viewed CCTV footage. A forensic examination was also carried out."

Capel Manor College said a "terrible episode" had also allowed its "much-loved" barn owl Shiraz to escape and is appealing for help from the public.

In a statement, the college confirmed its campus "experienced a break-in that resulted in damage to some of the animal areas, and sadly some animals died".

It added: "The safety of our staff, students, animals and community is of utmost importance to us.

"A team is onsite coordinating with the police in their ongoing investigation, and additional security staff have also been deployed at the campus."

Principal Peter Brammall said: "This has been a terrible episode and my thanks go out to the dedicated team of staff who worked tirelessly over Sunday and Monday to deal with and restore the devastation left by the intruders.

"Our campus is now back open, student lessons are back on track and the team is working with our partners to bring in new animals over the next few weeks to replace those that were sadly lost."

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The institution describes itself as "London's environmental college", offering young people and adults the opportunity to help take care of its estates, gardens, farm and zoos.

Following the incident, teaching at the west London campus was held online on Monday before in-person learning resumed at the site on Tuesday.

The college said Shiraz was a "white barn owl with a blue ring on her left ankle" and urged anyone with a sighting to call its emergency 24-hour line on 077135 68110 and the RSPCA at 0300 1234 999.

Police said people with information about Sunday's incident should call 101, quoting CAD 1639/25Feb.