A British zoo has stepped up its security measures after poachers killed a rhino in a French safari park and cut off its horn with a chainsaw.
The four-year-old animal, called Vince, was found dead in Thoiry zoo, not far from Paris, after the savage raid on Monday night.
In light of the attack, keepers at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, have decided to increase the guard around their herd of rhinoceroses.
The Zoological Society of London, which runs Whipsnade, Britain’s biggest zoo, announced its decision earlier last night.
There are 111 rhinos in captivity at zoos across the country, but it is not known if other facilities have taken similar precautions.
A source speaking to Le Parisien newspaper said ‘the animal had been shot with three bullets to the head, and his horn was cut off with a chainsaw.’
In a statement the zoo said that Vince’s second horn had only been partially cut, leading staff to believe that the criminals had been disturbed or that their equipment turned out to be defective.
The Rhinoceros Enclosure at Thoiry zoo is situated at the back of the hugely popular African Animal Park Reserve.
Police believe that one or more killers forced a door open at the back of the zoo, before entering the building where three rhinoceros lived under cover.
The other two rhinos managed to escape the attack and were unharmed, the zoo said in a statement.
‘It is possible that the thieves did not have time to attack other animals,’ said a source.
The white rhinoceros was called Vince and was one of the most popular attractions at the zoo, said park director Thierry Duguet.
He said the murderous attack was ‘unbelievable’, adding: ‘Our fellow European park managers are astonished.’
Police and soldiers examining the scene were deeply moved, and angry at what had happened, added Mr Duguet.
There have previously been fears about the threat posed to rhinos in Britain, with the National Wildlife Crime Unit telling 15 zoos and wildlife parks to tighten security in 2014.
In Africa, rhinos are regularly de-horned to deter poachers, but this practice is not thought to occur in Britain, according to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
There are around 21,000 white rhinos in the world, many still living in the wild, mainly in South Africa and Uganda, but the species is hugely under threat from poaching.
The white rhino is particularly vulnerable, because it is generally an unaggressive animal with very poor eye-sight.
Rhino horns are highly prized in traditional Asian medicine, where they are ground into a fine powder or turned into tablets to be used as a treatment for a variety of conditions, including a loss of libido.
Rhinoceros horns, which are said to be an aphrodisiac, can fetch up to £180,000 on the black market.
Rhinoceros horns are in fact composed of keratin with small mineral deposits at the centre. This is often described as ‘Ivory’ in the illegal trade.
There is a well known smuggling route between France and China, but until now most of the horns have come from poaching gangs working in Africa.
It is not only the first time that a horn has been stolen in Europe, but also the first time that an animal has been slaughtered in a French zoo.
Soldiers from the Thoiry gendarmerie were today leading the criminal investigation, which is being led by an examining magistrate.
Forensic evidence has been found at the scene, but the rhinoceros hide has so far been considered too thick to get an idea of what calibre of weapon was used.
Vince arrived at Thoiry from a Dutch zoo in March 2015, along with another white rhino called Bruno.
It was hoped that they would eventually mate with Gracie, a female rhino already in Thoiry.
In a statement the zoo said: ‘The other two white rhino living in Thoiry, Gracie 37-years-old, and Bruno five years of age, have escaped the massacre and are safe and sound.
‘Vince was found this morning by his keeper who, very attached to animals which she attends, is deeply affected.
‘This heinous act was carried out despite the presence of five members of the zoological staff living on site and surveillance cameras.’
Can you believe this? Rhinos are an endangered species. Now the poor creatures can’t even live in peace in a damn zoo as France is turning itself into Africa.
No article on any news site indicates that the poachers were African but of course they are, you watch, continue to follow the story and you will see in a few days or weeks when they catch the criminals that we were right, of course they Africans, what else could they be? Martians from Pluto?
Why can’t these black psychopaths at least wait until the animals die of old age, then poach their horns??? Besides, normally these horns grow back but they have to be cut short and it isn’t necessary to kill the animal. Truly savages from the jungle. Well American southerners have a saying: you can take a man out of the jungle but you can’t take the jungle out of a man. So true!
The more rhinos there are in the wild, the more die of old age, thus more horns! If they poach and kill the animals every time then their numbers will drop near extinction, and then where will they take their horns from if these animals go extinct? Its only logical but you see, these people have no logic!
So where’s the outrage? Where’s PETA? Where the psycho liberals at? Ohh wait, as AIDS Skrillex would say: I’ve done my research and that rhino was white! Yes he was a white racist and he deserved to be poached and shot by these eternally oppressed people.
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