Photo credit: Parc Zoologique de Thoiry
A young white rhino was killed after being shot in the head three times by poachers who broke into the Thoiry Zoo in Paris Monday night. Poachers de-horned the 4-year-old rhino, named Vince, and left alive two other white rhinos, 37-year-old Gracie and 5-year-old Bruno. They left part of Vince’s second horn, leading local police to believe they were ill-equipped or interrupted. The poachers are still at large.
“It is extremely shocking what just happened,” Zoo Director Thierry Duguet said. “An act of such violence, never before seen in Europe.”
White rhinos at the Parc Zoologique de Thoiry.Parc Zoologique de Thoiry / Facebook
Vince was discovered by his caretaker Tuesday morning. According to reports, the poachers forced open a gate and two doors to enter the rhinoceros building. They likely used a chainsaw to remove Vince’s horns.
A trend of rhino horn thefts from private collections and museums in the past several years has led to increased concern among conservationists for captive rhinos, The Washington Post explained. These bold new attacks are a sign that “zoological facilities need to take serious measures to keep their rhinos safe,” said Susie Ellis, executive director of International Rhino Foundation.
Crawford Allan, Senior Director of TRAFFIC North America, encourages zoos to immediately assess and increase their security and specifically recommended thermal imaging cameras and an increase in the number of security guards.
In other disturbing news, armed poachers in February 2017 attacked the staff of the Thula Rhino Orphanage in South Africa and killed two baby rhinos for their horns.
Rhinos at the Thula Thula Rhino OrphanageThula Thula Rhino Orphanage / Facebook
In 2016, 1,054 rhino killings were reported in South Africa. While this represents a modest decline from 1,175 in 2015, it is the fourth year in a row that more than 1,000 rhinos have been poached in South Africa.