The killing, which has sparked outrage across France, is believed to be the first of its kind at a European zoo.
The rhino’s ivory horn could be sold for thousands of dollars and is in high demand in China, where it is believed to be an aphrodisiac.
Two other white rhinos in the same enclosure, 37-year-old Gracie and five-year-old Bruno, were left unharmed. Police believe the five-year-old rhino was killed Monday night — he was shot three times in the head — after the butchers broke into the Thoiry zoo through a fence, according to Le Parisien.
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“It’s possible that the thieves didn’t have time to attack the other animals,” a source told Le Parisien. “It’s a real shock, it’s unbelievable to see this on a site like ours.”
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The relative safety of a zoo wasn’t enough to save Vince the rhino from ivory-seeking poachers.
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A white rhino in the wilds of South Africa. (Getty Images)
Vince, a rare white rhinoceros who lived at a zoo west of Paris since 2015, was found shot to death Tuesday morning, his ivory horn hacked off with a chainsaw.
“The killing of a rhinoceros at Thoiry is criminal,” France’s environment minister Segolene Roya said, according to Sky News. “It is time countries outlaw the trade in ivory and horn as I have done in France.”