In more shocking and depressing conservation news, a white rhinoceros has been killed and stripped of its horn at Thoiry Zoological Park, not far from the French capital, Paris.
Criminals broke into the zoo in the early hours of this morning, where they proceeded to shoot a 4-year-old male white rhino called Vince with three bullets to the head, Le Parisien reports. The zoo announced in a statement that they believe the poachers used a chainsaw to cut off his front horn. The second horn was only partially cut, suggesting the gang was interrupted halfway through, or perhaps suffered an equipment failure. An investigation to find the perpetrators is underway.
“Vince was found this morning by her caretaker, who is very attached to the animals she cares for and is deeply affected," the zoo said in the statement. "This odious act was perpetrated despite the presence of five members of the zoological staff living on site and surveillance cameras.”
The other two rhinos living at the zoo, luckily, were unharmed.
The white rhino is listed as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List. This is largely due to the massive demand in China and parts of southeast Asia for their horns, which are revered for their supposed, and totally unverified, aphrodisiac properties and used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Despite new efforts to curb this illegal trade across the globe, rhinoceros horn thefts from museums and private collectors are on the rise in Europe. That said, the poaching of a live animal in a European zoo is practically unheard of.
The past few weeks has seen an unusual spate of violent attacks on animals in zoos. The past few weeks have seen a hippopotamus beaten to death at a zoo in El Salvador and a crocodile stoned to death at a zoo in Tunisia.