The three boys, aged 16-17, killed a swan by hitting it with rocks during an educational school trip to Lake Garda, according to reports of broadcaster TV2.
“It was very violent and happened in front of a lot of people. So we want to make an example,” Francesco Milardo, a Carabinieri major in the town of Peschiera del Garda, said. Although the teenagers are now back in Denmark, it is expected that they will be contacted by Italian authorities.
According media reports the three boys were walking along the shore of the lake when they were confronted by the swan, which hissed and puffed its chest.
Witnesses said that the boys reacted with an astonishing cruelty by throwing stones at the animal, continuing to do so after it fled into nearby reeds, until eventually killing it.
A number of the witnesses subsequently informed police, who performed an autopsy on the animal at Verona’s animal hospital, writes Italian newspaper La Stampa.
Carabinieri declined to confirm which school the boys attend, citing restrictions on identifying minors in Italian law.
A youth court in Venice has reportedly been informed of the incident.
Denmark has its reputation for animal cruelty for yearly slaughter of black dolphins in waters of Faroe Islands.
The public slaughter of a young giraffe Marius, who was shot and dismembered in front of a zoo audience that included children, and fed to the zoo’s lions caused an international outcry.