6 min read

People Just Broke Into A Zoo And Killed A Rhino For His Horns

"This is poaching on a whole new level."

The white rhino was shot in the head several times. When he fell to the ground, poachers revved up a chainsaw and sliced off one of his horns.

While the rhino's killing is shocking enough, the worst part is where it happened - a zoo. On Monday, poachers broke into Parc Zoologique de Thoiry, a small zoo near Paris, France, and murdered Vince, a 4-year-old white rhino who's never lived a day in the wild.

The poachers apparently tried to saw off Vince's second horn, but stopped.

"The criminals were either interrupted or their equipment was defective," the zoo said in a press release published on Facebook. "Our entire staff is in a huge state of shock. A police investigation was launched early this morning."

This is the first time poachers have killed an animal in a European zoo, according to Julie Matondo, an education and communication officer for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

The zoo had security measures in place and staff living on site, according to the zoo's statement, so it's still unclear how the poachers broke in. Further details have not yet been released. The zoo could not immediately be reached for comment.

"This is poaching on a whole new level," Azzedine Downes, the president and CEO of IFAW, told The Dodo. "Wild rhinos have been in the sights of poachers for many years. It's horrifying to imagine a captive rhino falling prey to poachers' bullets."

"Rhino horn simply does not have any magical or medicinal qualities and to think of these magnificent creatures being killed for their horns is utterly abhorrent," he added.

The good news is that the two other white rhinos at the zoo - a 37-year-old female named Gracie and a 5-year-old male named Bruno - survived the attack.

This incident happened less than two weeks after men stormed Thula Thula Rhino orphanage in South Africa, and killed two baby rhinos for their horns. Rhinos are also being killed at an alarming rate in the wild, particularly in South Africa. It's estimated that 1,100 rhinos were killed in 2016 in South Africa alone, and over 129 have already been killed this year.

"Rhinos are in real crisis," Mark Jones, a veterinarian and associate director at the Born Free Foundation, said in a statement. "Thousands have been brutally slaughtered by poachers over recent years, to supply horn into illegal markets mainly in Vietnam and China. The killing of Vince at Thoiry zoo near Paris marks a new low for these beleaguered ancient and noble creatures, and undermines the considerable efforts being made to protect remaining rhinos from poachers and reduce demand in consumer countries through public education programs."

"It is vital that every effort is made to apprehend the poachers and bring them to justice, and to prevent the horn entering the illegal trade," Jones added. "Any trade in rhino horn fuels demand, encourages poachers and traffickers, and puts more rhinos at risk."

While many rhinos die during these horrific poaching attacks, a lucky few survive. If you want to help save rhinos from poaching attacks in the wild, make a donation to Saving the Survivors, an organization that provides emergency vet care for rhino poaching victims.

To help orphans of poaching attacks, you can make a donation to Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage (follow the link and select the "Rhino Orphanage Donation" button).