Rhino shot dead in zoo by poachers

white rhino

By Fifi Smith

Vincent was a four-year-old rhinoceros who was found dead by his keepers, on Tuesday morning. He had been shot in the head three times and his horn had been removed using a chainsaw.

The zoo keepers at Thoiry Zoo said; “Vincent came from a subspecies of southern white rhinos that are extremely threatened.”

The zoo believes that the poachers were disturbed or their equipment failed, because the second horn had only been partially cut.

The poachers are keen to remove rhino horns, because on the black market a rhino horn is worth £35,000.

This was the first attack on the rhinos in Europe. Zoo keepers have said that this is a wake-up call, and immediate security checks needed to be made to protect the 111 rhinos in captivity in the UK. “The theft of rhinoceros horns are rising across Europe, but it’s the first time an animal park has suffered an attack leading to the death of a rhinoceros,” the zoo said.

Poachers in Africa killed 1,338 rhinoceroses in 2015, over the past eight years an estimated quarter of the world’s rhinoceros population has been killed.

Chief Inspector Martin Sims, head of the National Wildlife Conservation Park (Bristol Zoo; UK) said; “There were not only concerns for the animals' safety but also of staff due to the use of firearms in the Paris incident.”

“Just over a decade ago, a rhino horn was just a rhino horn, an innocuous piece of animal body armour made of keratin, the same type of protein that makes up human hair and fingernails. Now a rhino horn is something else entirely for a new generation of wealthy buyers in China and Vietnam: a highly-coveted status symbol and a cancer-curing miracle drug and aphrodisiac whose legend is rooted in pseudoscience,” said The Washington Post.

Zoos don’t only need to focus on the safety of endangered animals; they need to also focus on the safety of all animals in their care.

The Washington Post reported: “Zoo break-ins happen. In 2012, a man entered the primate building at the Boise Zoo in Idaho and beat a monkey to death with a stick; it was a drunken escapade that went wrong when the monkey bit him. In 2000, teenagers stole two koalas from the San Francisco Zoo; they wanted to give the animals as gifts to their girlfriends. The year before that, a man burglarized the Central Park Zoo, taking a parrot that he intended to use as payment for a debt.”

Clearly, zoos can’t be entirely safe if people can break in and steal or harm animals. It isn’t a case where the zoo owners can barricade the animals in any more than they already are; instead they could have alarms and CCTV to watch out for any suspicious activity. Many people think that this should be dealt with.

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