Poachers killed four-year-old rhino named Vince at the Thoiry Zoo and Wildlife Park near Paris.
Vince’s keeper found him the next morning, with one of his horns hacked off, probably with a chainsaw, the zoo said in a statement.
Two other white rhinoceros living in the Thoiry zoo — Gracie aged 37 and Bruno aged 5 years — have “escaped the massacre” and are safe, the zoo said.
On Monday night, poachers shot and killed a rhinoceros at a zoo in France.
Vince, a four-year-old male southern white rhino, was a resident of the Thoiry Zoo and Wildlife Park, located about 50 kilometres (~31 miles) west of Paris. His keeper found him the next morning, with one of his horns hacked off, probably with a chainsaw, the zoo said in a statement on its Facebook page.
His second horn, however, was only partially cut, the authorities added, suggesting that the culprits may have been disturbed or that their equipment might have been defective. Vince was reportedly shot three times in the head.
“Vince was found this morning by her caretaker, who is very attached to the animals she cares for, and is deeply affected,” the statement said. “This odious act was perpetrated despite the presence of five members of the zoological staff living on the spot and surveillance cameras.”
Two other white rhinoceros living at the Thoiry zoo — Gracie aged 37 and Bruno aged 5 years — have “escaped the massacre” and are safe, the zoo said.
Vince was born at the Burgers’ Zoo in the Netherlands in 2012, and was brought to the Thoiry zoo in 2015 as part of a breeding program. His death is believed to be the first instance of a rhino being attacked at a zoo in Europe.
Southern white rhinos like Vince were thought to be extinct in the early 19th century, mostly killed by poachers for their horns. But the rhinos bounced back, thanks to more than a century of conservation efforts. The subspecies now has an estimated 21,000 individuals, mostly distributed in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya. It is listed as Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List.
In recent years, however, poaching has again intensified due to a surge in demand for rhino horns in Vietnam, where the horns represent a symbol of wealth. Rhino horns are also believed to cure a range of illnesses in Asian markets, but none of the claims have been proven yet.
The northern white rhino has not been as fortunate. Only three individuals remain today, and the subspecies is just one step away from extinction.
Attacks on rhinos in captivity also seem to be increasing, the Thoiry zoo said. Just last month, in a brutal attack, armed poachers entered a rhino orphanage in South Africa and killed two rhinos and cut off their horns. They also reportedly assaulted a woman at the center and beat up two rhino keepers.
Global trade in rhino horns is banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). Sale of rhino horn was also made illegal in France last year.