Poachers broke into a French zoo, shot a white rhinoceros, and sawed off its horn, according to news reports. The incident is believed to be the first time a rhino has been killed in captivity in Europe.
The break-in happened early Tuesday morning at the Thoiry Zoo, located 30 miles west of Paris. The rhino, named Vince, was shot three times. Authorities say the poachers used a chainsaw to remove one of the animal’s horns, but were likely interrupted before they could remove its second horn, which was partially sawn off. The zoo’s other two white rhinos were not harmed.
The trade of rhino horn is banned globally by the United Nations, and its sale is illegal in France. But demand for rhino horn, believed — incorrectly — to have medicinal benefit for everything from treating impotence to curing cancer, has surged in recent years as citizens from China and other Asian nations have grown wealthier . The number of rhinos poached in South Africa annually, for example, jumped from 83 in 2008 to 1,215 in 2014.