Warning: This article contains discussion of animal abuse which some readers may find distressing.

A nine-year-old boy will not face criminal charges after he was found to have strangled nine rabbits and two guinea pigs to death during a trip to a petting zoo.

The young boy, whose identity has not been released, injured the animals during a trip to the Rekerhout Petting Zoo in Alkmaar, Netherlands on March 11.

He is said to have walked into the petting zoo by himself before making his way over to the animals.

The boy handled small animals when he visited the zoo.


Images of the children’s farm shared online indicate that it is home to both bigger and smaller animals, including goats, ducks, pigs and rabbits.

It’s the latter that the boy allegedly targeted, strangling more than half a dozen rabbits as well as two guinea pigs living on the farm.

Ali Dorenbos, who manages the farm, told local media: “It makes you completely sick.”

In an interview with local newspaper De Telegraaf, Dorenbos claimed the boy showed ‘no emotion’ after killing the animals.

As he is under the age of 12 the child will not face criminal charges for killing the animals, but he is set to be enrolled into a care program to offer him the support he needs.

Esther van Fenema, a psychiatrist, said that while she feels ‘sorry for the animals’, she’s also concerned for ‘the little boy who apparently feels so bad that he has to do this’.

Experts have expressed concern over the incident.


“If you kill an animal in the house; explain to the child why,” she said. “Even if it is an insect. So that it learns that you don’t wring the neck of a guinea pig, which is harmful.”

Fenema shared that animal abuse can be a ‘worrisome sign of a behavioral disorder in children’.

“That needs to be thoroughly investigated,” she said. “There is often an interplay of risk factors. Such as predisposition, temperament, upbringing and all kinds of things can be going on in the home situation.

“Something bad may have happened that left a child incredibly frustrated and unable to express their emotions properly. Someone close to him may have died. Or he could be feeling bad because of conflicts at home.”

Dorenbos pointed out that the petting zoo was intended to offer ‘fun and enjoyment’ to those who visited, rather than being a place of harm.

“I was supposed to do this job for five years, but I never left and have now been doing it for 42 years,” she said. “Can you imagine how nice it is here? We do a lot of education and teach children how to interact with animals.”

If you see an animal in distress and/or in need of help, call 911 if a crime is in progress. You can also visit a directory of animal abuse investigation agencies by state here.