"These dogs appeared to be on a mission; what's disturbing about this is it appeared they were looking for food," said San Jose Parks and Recreation Director Angel Rios Jr.
Five nights later, the same dogs returned and dug under a steel fence where they mauled three female miniature horses to death.
Their names were Spice Girl, Luna, and Cayenne. A Sicilian Donkey named Maybelline was also killed.
The city-owned facility had moved the horses and donkey to a safer compound with a six-foot high fence but there were no concrete or steel bars to keep them from digging under the fence. There will be now.
Animal control officers have captured two of the 3 dogs that mauled to death a donkey & four miniature horses at @HHPZoo #SanJose, all popular attractions. The dogs’ fate & how it happened leads our 5pm news @abc7newsbayarea #whereyoulive #abc7now pic.twitter.com/RlLK7JnVbA— David Louie (@abc7david) January 31, 2018
All five animals were popular attractions for thousands of young visitors to Happy Hollow Zoo. Staff attachment was strong. Their deaths have left deep psychological scars.
"The donkey was born here," said Zoo Director Valerie Reigel. "I was there when she was born, and Luna, too and Cayenne as well."
Two of the dogs, the Shepherd mixes were believed to be the aggressors, while the third acted more like a follower.
"We have two of the dogs in custody, and pending identification of their owners, they will be euthanized," said Rios Jr.
Animal control officers are still on the lookout for the third dog. Thoughts have not yet turned to replacing the horses and the donkey, but security upgrades are underway.
"We're continuing to do everything that we can to ensure that nothing like this can happen again," said Riegel.