Poachers Just Killed A Zoo Rhino While She Was Sleeping And Stole Her Horn

Her name was Maxine.

Maxine, a white rhino living at a zoo in South Africa, was brutally killed this week by poachers who broke in and stole her horn.

Even though some staff live on the grounds, it's reported that no one heard anything at Natal Zoological Gardens and the Lion Park in the early hours of Tuesday morning when the intruders shot Maxine in the head at point-blank range and then dehorned her. 

This isn’t the first time poachers have gone to such lengths to steal rhino horn, which is worth more than its weight in gold. In February, two armed men broke into Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage and held staff hostage while killing two baby rhinos for their horns. In March, a 4-year-old white rhino named Vince, who lived at a zoo near Paris, France, was also murdered and dehorned by intruders.

Scared for the safety of its rhinos after these incidents, a zoo in the Czech Republic decided to dehorn all of its rhinos. The orphanage, traumatized by the attack, decided to close. 

Meanwhile, in a controversial and widely opposed decision earlier this year, South Africa made domestic trade of rhino horn legal again, sparking concerns that this would only help feed illegal international markets. 

Rhino horn is actually made of keratin, which is the same material as our fingernails, but because of the unfounded superstition that it cures everything from hangovers to cancer, poachers profit from illegally trafficking rhino horn across borders into Asia.

Maxine, who was orphaned after her mother died giving birth to her, had lived at the zoo since she was 2 years old.

"We are so sad and in shock, and will do everything possible to find the culprits responsible for this heinous crime,” the zoo wrote.

To help baby rhinos orphaned by poaching, you can donate to The Rhino Orphanage