Page last updated at 13:02 GMT, Saturday, 9 May 2009 14:02 UK

Rare bronze hippo statues stolen

Hippo statue
Police said care was taken to keep the hippos in one piece

Two rare bronze statues of hippos, commissioned by the late animal park owner John Aspinall, have been stolen from the grounds of a house in Kent.

The statues, one of a full hippo and the other of the head of a hippo, are worth £15,000 and were made in Cape Town, South Africa.

Only two sets were ever made. The other is on display at Port Lympne animal park, which Mr Aspinall founded.

The statues were stolen from a property on the outskirts of Canterbury.

Police said its owner did not want its exact location to be disclosed.

Easily recognisible

The statues were stolen between 1900 BST on Wednesday and 1100 BST on Thursday.

Det Con Gary Titherly said the statues were easily recognisable and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

"Due to the sheer weight of the bronzes they would have been difficult to move and more than one person would have been involved in the crime," he said.

"The thieves appear to have taken them with an amount of care, which leads me to believe that they are in one piece.

"They are very unique and may well be in storage for possible sale at a later date."

Millionaire Mr Aspinall died in 2000 at the age of 74.

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