Poachers Break Into Paris Zoo, Kill Rhino to Steal Its Horn

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Thoiry Zoo Rhino

Source: Facebook/Thoiry Zoological Park

Rhinos are regularly hunted in the wild by poachers who might take the animals’ horns for sale on the black market. But it seems that even captive rhinos are no longer safe from such dangers.

On Monday night, several assailants broke into the Thoiry Zoological Park in Paris, France. They reportedly made their way to the white rhino enclosure where they shot a 4-year-old male, Vince, three times in the head and proceeded to remove one of the rhino’s horns. The second horn was “partially hacked off,” according to The Independent, suggesting the criminals were forced to leave earlier than anticipated or their tools became defective or stopped working.

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In addition to that Thoiry Zoo rhino, the other two rhinos — 37-year-old Gracie and 5-year-old Bruno — “escaped the massacre and are safe,” the zoo wrote on their Facebook page. Vince was found on Tuesday morning by his caretaker, who the zoo said was “very attached to the animals she cares for, and is deeply affected.” According to the zoo, the assailants were able to make their way into the Thoiry zoo rhino enclosure despite the presence of five members of the zoological staff who stay on the premises. The zoo said the assailants forced their way through an outer gate to enter the “Domaine de Thoiry,” proceeded to the white rhinoceros building where they forced another metal door open, and then “fractured” yet another inner door to get to the animals. Rhino poaching has only increased in recent years as the criminals take the horns to sell them on the black market, especially in China, where they are believed to have aphrodisiacal qualities, beliefs which the Thoiry Zoo argues are “unfounded.” From Thoiry:
“By 2015 on the black market, 1kg of rhinoceros horn was sold for 51,000 euros. There are 5 species of rhinoceros and 11 subspecies, all threatened … In recent years poaching in South Africa has increased exponentially. In 2007, 13 white rhinoceros were killed, in 2011, 448 white rhinoceroses, in 2014, 1,215 and in 2015, 1,175 white rhinoceroses were poached.”
The Independent wrote that this is thought to be the first time in Europe an animal was killed in captivity by poachers. A tiger at a zoo in Itanagar, India was killed by poachers in 2012. Perhaps a story like this will spur China to take action on rhino poaching, similarly to how they recently banned all ivory trade to help curb the slaughter of elephants.

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