Police scrambled armed officers and a helicopter to a zoo after receiving reports of people breaking in and throwing items at the animals.
Officers used night vision sights to help locate four people suspected of posting images on social media of the burglary at Marwell Zoo near Winchester, Hampshire, including footage of them throwing things at the animals.
A Hampshire police spokeswoman said entry had been forced to the site on Monday evening with significant damage caused to several buildings.
A 20-year-old man and a 22-year-old man, both from Fareham, and a 22-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman, both from Gosport, have been arrested on suspicion of burglary and remain in custody.
The spokeswoman said: “Police were called at 11.40pm after a member of the public saw footage of people breaking into the site on social media.
“They also reported that the suspects had been throwing items at the animals.
“We are still in the early stages of this investigation, we do not believe anything has been stolen at this time.”
Gosport Police, who posted a night vision photo of a cheetah on Twitter, said: “A Hants Police ARV unit, a Police Dog and a Helicopter responded last night to intruders in Marwell Zoo throwing things at the animals.
“3 Gosport males were arrested on suspicion of Burglary, a female is also in custody.
“The Marwell Cheetahs weren’t too keen on the Police Dog!”
Marwell Zoo posted: “We are deeply saddened by an incident at the zoo last night and we are today assisting police with their enquiries.
“We’d like to reassure our supporters that all our animals are safe and our expert teams are on site caring for them to the highest standard.”