Last night, a gang of thieves broke into the home of Michael Flatley, twinkle-toed tap dancer commonly known as the star of Lord of the Dance, making off with just one item in particular -- a single rhino horn, valued at over $400,000.
According to reports, the horn was sawed off of a mounted rhino head on display in the Irish performer's "safari room."
While the suspects are still at large, the case bears striking similarities to a spate of home robberies in Ireland where rhino horns appeared to be the sole target. European police believe that an organized crime syndicate is responsible for the horn heist, having struck more than 60 museums and private collections across Europe in the last three years.
Due to high demand in the black markets of Asia where they are crushed and sold as medicine, these horns are literally worth their weight in gold.
Since the story broke, Michael Flatley has been the subject of criticism for the fact that he had a rhino horn in his home at all. John Carmody, founder of the Animal Rights Action Network, published an open letter to Flatley reminding him that, although he was robbed, it wasn't his horn to begin with.
"That horn once belonged to a sentient living animal whose very species is in serious trouble right now due to poaching and hunting. The animals are literally on the brink of being wiped off the face of the planet," writes Carmody.
"In order to obtain a rhino horn, the animal must first be shot dead, which can often be more than one bullet before the animal has much of its faced hacked off in order to get to the root of the horn that you so casually had on display at your home. Have you thought for even a moment how much violence and crime was behind the origin of that "ornament"?"