Rhinos don't tend to be the first animal you think of when you talk about visiting a zoo - I always find lions, tigers, polar bears and elephants are higher up the list - but it turns out that the rhinoceros is a desirable animal..Desirable, that is, for its horns.
But what's unbelievable, is that criminals are so desperate to get their hands on these horns, they're willing to break into a zoo and saw them off the animals during the night.
I'm not saying this to be sensationalist. It's absolutely true. I spoke to Colchester Zoo about it. They have seven rhinos in total; three adult males, three adult females and one male calf. To help protect them, the zoo recently spent thousands of pounds on security after the Wildlife Crime Unit advised all zoos with rhinos that poachers will stop at nothing to get hold of horns. Now, the rhino enclosure has extra protection as well as night wardens regularly patrolling the whole zoo.
Unfortunately, the zoo wasn't able to provide a spokesperson for me to film talking about it, but I think the person I did manage to film gets the point across quite nicely...
If a three-year-old knows that rhino horns belong on the animal, why can't others see it? Oh wait, perhaps it's because these horns can fetch in the region of $40,000 a kilo because it's reputed to be a cure for cancer (which, by the way is totally unproven). Criminals obviously don't care about the health of those they're selling these horns to; it's simply greed over morality. As you will have seen in the video, a poacher who stole rhino horns from an animal who died of natural causes at Colchester Zoo was jailed after he was discovered trying to smuggle the horns through Manchester Airport, on his way to China. It's despicable.
We need to do all we can to stamp out wildlife crime and keep these animals safe. Together we can make a difference.