A day after a young rhinoceros was shot at a French wildlife park by poachers who stole the animal’s horn, officials at Fresno Chaffee Zoo were analyzing their security for their own small crash of rhinos.
But zoo spokeswoman Ciara Castellanoz said Chaffee curators and top administrators were confident in the security measures they have in place.
French wildlife park director Thierry Duguet told The Associated Press that poachers broke into the Thoiry Zoo and used a chainsaw to remove the horn from the rhino named Vince. Zookeepers discovered his carcass Tuesday in the rhinoceros’ enclosure.
Duguet says police are investigating and the suspects remained at large.
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According to Le Parisien newspaper, a rhinoceros horn can be sold for up to 40,000 euros ($42,163) on the black market because of a strong demand linked to the belief that the horns have aphrodisiac powers.
The Bee asked Castellanoz several questions by email with the understanding she would not disclose specifics about security measures.
The zoo in France thought it had adequate security, such as numerous locked gates. Without asking for specifics at Chaffee, do you feel your current security is sufficient, or does the France incident make you reconsider what you have in place to protect your animals?
Castellanoz: While we take incidents like this very seriously, we are confident that we have more than adequate security policies in place for both our animals and our guests. We are constantly assessing and making adjustments to our security policy and procedures to make sure we are providing the safest environment possible.
How many rhinos are at Chaffee?
Fresno Chaffee Zoo is home to three southern white rhinos: Tim (age 20), Kayla (age 12) and a male calf who has not been named yet (born Jan. 24, 2017).
The zoo in France has staff that stays overnight there. Does Chaffee have that?
Yes, Fresno Chaffee Zoo has 24-hour security.
Has Chaffee ever thought one of its animals could be targeted by poachers, or is the France crime a wake-up that it could happen here?
We are always analyzing our security policies and will absolutely look at tragic incidents like this when we make adjustments to our policy to make sure we are providing our animals and guests with the safest environment possible.
Does it make you worry about your animals overall?
At Fresno Chaffee Zoo, the safety of our animals and guests is our top priority. While we are not concerned for their safety at this time, we absolutely take situations like this into account when we analyze and adjust our current security policies.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Tad Weber: 559-441-6491, @tadweber