Poachers broke into the Thoiry Zoo in the suburbs of Paris and shot a white rhinoceros three times —then cut off its horns with a chainsaw.
The disturbing incident took place at midnight and killed a 4-year-old rhino named Vince. The rhino was found dead by zoo keepers in the morning. The second horn of the rhino was also partially cut which gives an indication that the poachers must have tried to cut it off but failed, maybe due to disturbance or defective equipment.
Vince lived in a fenced enclosure with two other rhinos, 37-year-old Gracie and 5-year-old Bruno. However, both of the two other animals are safe and in a healthy condition.
Vince was born at Burgers’ Zoo in the Netherlands in September 2012. He arrived in Paris in March 2015 with Bruno. The Thoiry complex includes a zoo and a drive-through wildlife preserve. The unfortunate attack took place despite security cameras and five members of zoo staff living on the site.
Soon after the incident, the zoo administration shared a post on Facebook describing the shock of the zoo keepers, especially Vince’s keeper who was very attached to him.
"The whole staff is extremely shocked," said the preserve.
The incident is said to be the first of its kind in Europe where a live animal living captivity has been attacked by poachers. However, theft of ivory horns at auction houses and exhibitions is a common practice.
White rhinos are considered to be extremely endangered, therefore reproduction and conservation in zoos is absolutely necessary. Poaching of white rhinos is extremely common as people believe their horns have medicinal properties.
However, experts suggest the rhino horn is becoming more lucrative than drugs as it can be sold up to $36,000. Despite continued threats of poaching, the species that were once on the brink of extinction now total up to around only 20,000 all over the world.
It still remains unclear what kind of gun was used to kill Vince but an enquiry has been launched into the rhino’s death.
Tragic news: Poachers break into Thoiry Zoo in Paris and kill 4-year old rhino just to steal its horn https://t.co/0pJPUFgmj7— Shah Selbe (@shahselbe) March 7, 2017
Even when protected, innocent ?? get killed for their horns! ?? • Poachers Break into Zoo Kill 4-year-old Rhino https://t.co/CeMygA1T7w— Megan (@songbirdee) March 8, 2017
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Thomas Mukoya