A vicious attack which left a duck battered to death has been described by animal campaigners as 'extremely worrying'.
The mallard was kicked until he was lifeless a boy aged around 11-13 in Waltham Abbey at the end of last month.
Following the brutal violence, the boy threw the body into the garden of a nearby house. Although members of the public approached the boy who was accompanied by two friends, they were too late to save the animal.
Carina Powney, the Waltham Abbey Green Party's animal welfare and wildlife spokesperson, said: "I am a voice for issues to do with animal welfare and wildlife. We are really horrified to read about this.
"We hope that if anybody knows anything they do the right thing. There are a couple of witnesses. I just can't understand it. It is not the kind of thing that most people with a conscience would do.
"It is extremely worrying. This child is going to need some help. It has really upset me. If they could do this to a duck, what next?"
In response to the incident, animal rights charity PETA has sent humane education materials to primary schools in the area in a bid to prevent future instances of violence.
The charity says that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation uses reports of crimes against animals to analyse the threat potential of suspected and known criminals, adding that 'experts agree that it’s the severity of the behaviour – not the species of the victim – that matters'.
"PETA wants to prevent any further acts of cruelty," says PETA Director Elisa Allen. "Instilling empathy in children and teaching them to respect others, human and non-human, is vital. The safety of the whole community depends on it."
Welfarist charity the RSPCA has launched an appeal to try and track down the boys, as well as the second witness.
RSPCA inspector Rachel Smith said: "This was a completely barbaric attack on a defenceless duck and I am very keen to hear from anyone with information that can lead me to the three youths and, in particular, the one responsible for this attack."
Anyone with information can call Inspector Smith on 0300 123 8018.