While it’s typical of illegal hunters to find their victims in the wild, four-year-old white Rhino named Vince from Toiry Zoo in France was reportedly shot and killed Monday night by an act of poaching. The creature was found by zoo staff the next day with its largest horn chopped off.
Image Credit: FraukeFeind/Pixabay
The perpetrator(s) reportedly broke into the zoo during night hours by breaking and entering through one of the park’s gates and then breaking into the animal enclosure, which was locked at the time.
“Vince was found this morning by [his] caretaker, who is very attached to the animals she cares for, and is deeply affected,” Toiry Zoo said in a statement. “This odious act was perpetrated despite the presence of five members of the zoological staff living on the spot and surveillance cameras.”
After shooting the creature point blank in the head three times, they used what appeared to be a chainsaw to remove the large horn from the creature’s head. Staff noted that the smaller horn remained on the creature’s body, but it appeared to be marred from the cutting equipment, most likely because the poacher(s) didn’t have time to get to it.
Many reports suggest that either the perpetrator(s) was disturbed during the act and had to cut the mission short, or that perhaps the cutting equipment failed mid-trip. In either case, the person behind this horrendous act was forced to make a run for it with what they had.
While animal conservationists are already upset with the continued onslaught of creatures in the wild, one really has to ask themselves what kind of mentally-ill individual would break into an enclosed zoo and kill one of the main attractions that park-goers love.
The motivator was clearly money, as horns from these kinds of creatures are considered highly valuable on the black market, especially in parts of Asia where they’re believed to have medicinal properties.
White rhinos are listed as “near threatened” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, but Vince reportedly belonged to a very rare subspecies of Southern white rhino that are currently face a real danger of extinction.
The event has been traumatizing for the zoo staff, as the creature played a significant role in entertaining park visitors and also because the staff has become so accustomed to caring for the animal over the years. Being one of the most entertaining attractions at Toiry Zoo, Vince will undoubtedly be missed by visitors, as well as by the staff.
As for the park itself, Toiry Zoo still has two other white rhinos in its captivity that are just a little older than Vince. Those two, named Bruno and Gracie, seemed to be unscathed from the incident.
For what it’s worth, this is said to be the first time something even remotely like this has ever happened in Europe. Perhaps it’s time to call on higher levels of security to ensure this doens't happen again.