Poachers kill rhino in French zoo

Miranda GreerMar 08, 2017

The rhino, named Vince, was shot dead at Thoiry Zoo before the poachers sawed off one of those horns, according to CNN.

Southern White Rhinoceroses were once nearly extinct, though have since made a comeback and number about 20,000.

Southern white rhinos like Vince were almost extinct in the late 19 century, according to the WWF.

Thoiry Zoo, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Paris, features a safari park that visitors can only access in a vehicle.

The two other rhinos in the enclosure at the time, a 37-year-old called female called Gracie and a five-year-old male called Bruno, were not physically harmed. Some believe the horns serve as aphrodisiacs.

"Vince was found this morning by his carer who, very attached to animals, is deeply affected".

"It is possible that the thieves did not have time to attack other animals", a source told Le Parisien newspaper. A kilogram of rhino horn sold on the black market for almost $54,000 in 2015, according to the zoo. "Hundreds of white rhinos have been killed annually in recent years", the WWF says.

Vince was born at Burgers' Zoo in the Netherlands in 2012, and was transferred to the Thoiry Zoo in March 2015.

It's believed the poachers broke into the zoo by breaking past an outer gate near the site's "African Plain" area, before breaking two more doors at the rhinoceros enclosure, staff said.

Zoo director Thierry Duguet described the attack as "unbelievable" and "extremely shocking".

He added: "It's not easy to kill a rhino weighing several tonnes just like that".

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.

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