Poachers Break Into A French Zoo, Kill Rare White Rhinoceros In Cold Blood

Bruno, left, and Gracie two rhinoceroses rest at the Thoiry Zoo, near Paris, France, Wednesday, March 8, 2017, the zoo where a rhinoceros named Vince was killed and one of it's horns removed using a chain saw.
AP photo by Christophe Ena

Last year, the world mourned the death of Harambe, the silverback gorilla shot by a zoo worker after manhandling a small boy who’d fallen into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. Now, he’ll be joined in the afterlife by another majestic beast slaughtered in captivity.

On the night of March 6, poachers broke into the Thoiry zoo on the outskirts of Paris and killed a four-year-old white rhinoceros. His name was Vince. They took his horn.

A keeper found Vince on the morning of March 7 with a bullet in his head. His large horn had been removed with a chainsaw, while his second horn was only partially severed. Authorities suspect the poachers had fled before they could finish the job because their equipment failed or, more likely, they’d been spooked.

The brazen murder of Vince, whom park director Thierry Duguet described as one of the zoo’s most popular attractions, raises the disturbing prospect that poachers are now shifting their attention to animal parks as untapped killing grounds as opposed to the wild. Authorities say this was the first time a zoo animal was poached in Europe.   

To reach Vince, the poachers had to first force open a grill at the rear entrance of the zoo. They then broke through two locked doors until they arrived in the enclosure where Vince lived with two other white rhinos. “It’s possible the thieves didn’t have time to take the others,” a police spokesman told The Guardian.

An announcement posted on the Thoiry zoo’s Facebook page said that the “odious act” was carried out despite the presence of security cameras and five staff members who live on zoo grounds. The announcement explained that the keeper who found Vince’s body “was very attached to him and is deeply upset.”

A rhinoceros horn has an estimated value on the black market of between about $30,000 - $40,000 dollars, according to The Guardian. Detectives say there’s an established trade network in illegally poached horn between France and Asia, where the horn of the white rhino is believed to have aphrodisiacal qualities.

“Animal parks throughout Europe have been put on alert to look out,” Paul de La Panouse, a former historic director of the African enclosure at Thoiry zoo told French journalists. “It’s not easy to kill a rhino weighing several tons just like that. It’s a job for professionals.”

White rhinos are an endangered species mainly found in Uganda and South Africa, where they’ve been poached extensively. Only an estimated 21,000 still exist in the wild.

The Navy has fired five senior leaders so far in August – and the month isn't even over.

While the sea service is famous for instilling in officers that they are responsible for any wrongdoing by their sailors – whether they are aware of the infractions or not – the recent rash of firings is a lot, even for the Navy.

A Navy spokesman said there is no connection between any of the five officers relieved of command, adding that each relief is looked at separately.

Read More Show Less
Then-Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville. (U.S. Army/Spc. Matthew J. Marcellus)

After months of focusing on modernization priorities, Army leadership plans to tackle persisting personnel issues in the coming years.

Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Tuesday at an event with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that what people can to hear service leadership "talk a lot about ... our people. Investing in our people, so that they can reach their potential. ... We are a people organization."

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Army/Pfc. Hubert D. Delany III)

Two U.S. military service members were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the Resolute Support mission announced in a press release.

Their identities are being withheld pending notification of next of kin, the command added.

A total of 16 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan so far in 2019. Fourteen of those service members have died in combat including two service members killed in an apparent insider attack on July 29.

Two U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been killed in non-combat incidents and a sailor from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was declared dead after falling overboard while the ship was supporting operations in Afghanistan.

At least two defense contractors have also been killed in Afghanistan. One was a Navy veteran and the other had served in the Army.

Sylvester Stallone is back as John Rambo. Why? Because nothing is (ever) over with this guy.

Read More Show Less
Popular Mobilization Forces fighters wave flags in this June 2016 photo. (Wikimedia Commons/Tasnim News Agency)

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's paramilitary groups on Wednesday blamed a series of recent blasts at their weapons depots and bases on the United States and Israel.

The statement from the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), the umbrella grouping of Iraq's mostly Shi'ite Muslim paramilitary groups, many of which are backed by Iran, said the United States had allowed four Israeli drones to enter the region accompanying U.S. forces and carry out missions on Iraqi territory.

Read More Show Less