PRISON guinea pig Reggie Kray was treated to five-star treatment right up to his final hours, when he was rushed to a vets in an escort car.
Reggie, along with his brother Ronnie, was a pet at HMP Eastwood Park, at Wotton-under-Edge, and had helped rehabilitate some of its 360 women criminals.
But after Reggie fell ill on Wednesday at 2.30pm, he was taken to the vet in a prison escort vehicle at taxpayers' expense and accompanied by a prison officer.
The animal, which had suffered an ear infection, returned by 5pm but died two hours later.
A prison nurse claimed bosses even ordered the services of two vets to come to the prison and certify the guinea pig's death at a cost of around £200. That has since been waived by the vets.
The nurse, from Gloucester, who does not want to be named, said: "I think it is such a joke that a guinea pig was taken to the vets by prison service car. It took an officer off duty and we are already short staffed. Then later that day a member of staff logged that there was a death in custody. But unbelievably it was the guinea pig.
"Two vets arrived at 7.45pm to confirm that the guinea pig was dead. In my opinion, this is such a scandalous waste of public funds.
"These guinea pigs have been living it up for sometime. They are even on the roll check along with inmates meaning they get checked on four times a day for their welfare."
An inspection report into one unit at the prison in November 2012 said: "Cells were grubby and the unit had an institutional feel. Hygiene in the kitchen was also poor and the food unappetising."
Another report in April that year added: "Some shared cells were very small. Toilets were unscreened and women had to eat some meals sitting on the bunks next to the unscreened toilet."
The guinea pigs are named after the infamous 1950s and 1960s gangsters, the Kray twins.
The Ministry of Justice admitted a prison vehicle had been used with one officer accompanying Reggie to the vets.
The spokesman added that the bill for calling out the vets had been waived but said that a recent vets bill, understood to be for the initial consultation, had come to £31.
He added that the pets were checked each day but did not have a barcode as prisoners do.
Jonathan Isaby, Political Director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "At a time when budgets are so tight, taxpayers will be astounded at the amount of money and staff time that was taken up dealing with this sick guinea pig."