To Protect Rhinos, Zoo Taking Chainsaw to Their Faces
Dvur Kralove zoo is fearful of poachers in wake of French incident
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2017 9:41 AM CDT
A newly born critically endangered eastern black rhino, with its mother Jola, walks in its enclosure at the zoo in Dvur Kralove, Czech Republic, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016.   (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

(Newser) – "For the sake of rhino safety," a Czech zoo plans to take a chainsaw to its rhinos' faces. The goal is to make the herd of rare black and southern white rhinos unattractive to poachers, who last week shot and killed a white rhino at a French zoo before making off with its horns. "The attack [in France] put us on alert, the danger is really intense," says a rep for the Dvur Kralove zoo. She explains 18 of the 21 rhinos—the number excludes three calves—will be put under and then have their horns chainsawed off and filed. It's a process that has been done before, she says, but never for this reason.

Its rhinos' horns would be worth a pretty penny: They can go for $25,000 a pound on the black market, per the AFP. How that translates: The BBC reports that 21 rhino horns recently seized at Bangkok's international airport are worth an estimated $5 million. Per the International Rhino Foundation, half a million rhinos "roamed the wild" in the early 1900s; today that number has dwindled to 29,000. In China and Vietnam, the creature's horn is prized as having medicinal value and is used as an aphrodisiac, though there is no scientific evidence of either. The foundation points out that consuming horn is basically akin to eating your own hair or fingernails; all three are made of keratin. (Read more about the brutal death of "Vince" the rhino in France.)

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