Poaching is a worldwide epidemic. The brutal slaughter of animals will continue unabated until their respective pieces and parts no longer have value. Some animals are so rare in the wild that poachers are having to turn to a new source. Zoos.
This shouldn’t come a surprise. Zoos keep animals caged, and catalogued. They are easy to access. Yet you wouldn’t think a zoo in France would be susceptible to a problem that typically plagues the wilds of Africa.
But it is. Poachers broke into a French zoo, killed a rhino and cut off his horn with a chainsaw. The rhino corpse was found Tuesday morning by zoo officials. It had been shot in the head three times.
All of this makes a fair amount of noise, yet the crime in the suburb of Paris went unreported until the animal was found by zookeepers.
Vince had lived at the Thoiry Zoo for four years. As of Tuesday evening, there’s been no arrests. The zoo has cameras, but officials have not said what the cameras may have captured.
There were two other rhinos in the enclosure. Bruce and Grace were spared, though zoo officials are unsure as to why. One theory is that the poachers were interrupted before they could finish the job.
The motivation, though, remains clear. Rhino horn, believed to be an aphrodisiac in some cultures, fetches astronomical prices on the black-market. Two pounds of horn can sell for as much as $60,000.
Vince’s death is believed to be a first for a European zoo, and likely has many other animal sanctuaries scrambling to redouble security. The poaching of Rhinos is common in South Africa, where animals like Vince come from.
Zoo is part of a sprawling compound outside of Paris. The castle itself is still the home of the Counts of La Panouse. The zoo portion offers driving experiences and walking tours that bring visitors very close to the actual animals.