Two students from Kent have been arrested in connection with a “disturbing” attack on a sheep.
It is reported the pair, who were studying at Plumpton College in West Sussex, kicked the animal in the head before stuffing it with a firework and blowing it up.
West Sussex Police confirmed two men, aged 18 and 20, were arrested on suspicion of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and criminal damage.
They have been released on conditional bail while inquiries continue.
When asked to confirm details of the incident, the college said: “We remain appalled by this incident and saddened by the impact that this has had on our other students, our staff and the wider community.
“We have always understood and mirrored the depth of feelings triggered by this incident which in no way represents our values and the high standards that we strive to achieve on a daily basis.
“Our thanks go to those who have supported us during this difficult time; we will of course reflect and learn from this experience and do all that we can to continue to educate our students in exemplary practices in animal welfare.”
The college confirmed two students have been “permanently excluded and prevented from ever studying at the college again”.
Two other students, being treated as significant witnesses, have been withdrawn from their course by the college “in order to safeguard student welfare and to preserve the integrity of the police investigation”, a statement added.
Officers believe the incident happened on Thursday, November 2, near Ditchling Beacon, West Sussex.
Superintendent Rachel Swinney of Sussex Police said investigators are treating the “disturbing report” extremely seriously.
She added: “We have engaged with the college, which has taken its own internal disciplinary measures and is fully supporting our investigation.
“We have also engaged with the owner of the sheep, local farmers and the wider community to provide reassurance and advice.”