White Rhino Killed, Horn Taken, From French Zoo

The rhino was found dead in its enclosure where it lived with two others

Investigators estimate it to be worth 30,000-40,000 euros ($31,700-$42,250).

The unknown assailants killed a 5-year-old rhino on Monday night at the Thoiry zoo in the department of Yvelines, to the west of Paris.

Vince's death is believed to be the first time a zoo animal in Europe has been killed by poachers.

"I was a bit surprised, but at the same time, it sort of seems like the next step in the crisis", Sieffert told Live Science. The poachers were after the rhino's horn which they absconded with after sawing it off. It has been escalating for years. And zoos may find themselves implementing other anti-poaching systems to fill any gaps in the animal-protection systems they already have, which include cameras, gates, and staff presence.

The "they" Sieffert referred to indicates not opportunists or amateurs, but professionals.

The zoo director said the team was in mourning. Further, Duguet said that the rhino was one of the zoo's most popular attractions. Buyers covet the horn for its completely mythical medicinal properties.

Rhinos have always been poached for their horns, largely to supply demand in Asia, where it is believed that rhino horn has medicinal and aphrodisiac properties. He came to Paris in 2015 with one of the zoo's other rhinos.

The demand has led to a huge spike in poaching.

A recent report by an global consortium of conservation groups found that poaching has been on a stratospheric trajectory. "Thousands have been brutally slaughtered by poachers over recent years, to supply horn into illegal markets mainly in Vietnam and China". Poachers shot the animal in the head and fled before they could remove the second, smaller horn, zoo officials said.

The IUCN said the total white rhinoceros population was between 19,500 and 21,500 and the species was considered "near threatened". That's down from about 65,000 in 1970. Gustavito, a favorite of park visitors, also died as a result of his injuries. About 60 of these solitary animals survive.

Thoiry zoo described the attack as a "heinous act" on its Facebook page.

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