Poachers shot a rhinoceros three times in the head before cutting off one of its horn during a break in at a zoo near Paris on Monday night.
The disturbing crime was discovered on Tuesday morning when the four-year-old white rhinoceros – called Vince – was found dead by keepers in his enclosure at the Thoiry Zoo.
According to a statement issued by the zoo, the poachers were able to force their way into the rhinoceros enclosure after breaking into the zoo on the outskirts of the French capital.
The zoo said in a statement that they shot Vince before removing one of his horns with, they suspect, a chainsaw.
It appeared they had also tried to also cut off his second horn, which had been partially chopped but.The two other rhinoceros who shared the enclosure with Vince, five-year-old Bruno and Gracie, 37, were left unharmed.
The two other rhinoceros who shared the enclosure with Vince, five-year-old Bruno and Gracie, 37, were left unharmed.A statement from the zoo posted on Facebook stated: “Vince was found this morning by her caretaker, who is very attached to the animals she cares
Thoiry Zoo confirmed the sad news in a statement on Facebook, in which they shared their horror and shock: “Vince was found this morning by his caretaker, who is very attached to the animals she cares for, and is deeply affected.
“This odious act was perpetrated despite the presence of five members of the zoological staff living on the spot and surveillance cameras.”
The zoo had ramped up security to protect the endangered species in 2011 due to a number of thefts of horns in Europe.
There are an estimated 21,000 white rhinos in the world, but their numbers are under threat from poachers in their native South Africa and Uganda.
The horns are especially in demand in traditional Asian medicine and can be worth up to $218,700 on the black market.
Speaking following Monday night’s events, Thierry Duquet, the zoo director, said that the “extremely shocking” attack was the first of its kind in Europe.