Well, this is a bit fucked. Overnight, intruders broke into a zoo in Thoiry just outside Paris and shot dead a rare white rhino, hacking off its horn, in what has been described as the first such incident in Europe.

The animal, a four year old named Vince, was shot three times in the head in his enclosure, where at least two other rhinos are kept. “Staff left the rhino enclosure on Monday. When they returned on Tuesday, an animal had been killed and its two horns had been sawn off,” a police spokeswoman told AFP.

It is believed that the horn was cut off with a chainsaw. A second horn was partially cut, suggesting the intruders were either disturbed or suffered some kind of equipment failure.

The manager of the zoo, Thierry Duguet, said that the zoo’s community is distraught over the act. “This has never happened before in a zoo, either in France or in Europe. We are extremely shocked and upset — this is supposed to be a sanctuary for the animals.”

Rhino horn is expensive – more expensive pound for pound than cocaine. A kilo of rhino horn fetched just over $70,000 on the black market as of 2015. It is popular in some Asian markets for its believed medicinal properties. Global trade in rhino horn is banned by the UN.

The zoo had security measures, including overnight staff members and security cameras, though it is believed that none were actually active in the area surrounding the rhino enclosure.

The world population of southern white rhino, which was once severely endangered due to poaching, has now recovered to around 20,000 due to intensive conservation efforts.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Photo: Thoiry Zoo.