Measures are in place at the Granby Zoo to ensure the safety of animals that could be targeted by poachers, as was the case of a rhinoceros this week in a zoo in France.
There is no question, however, of revealing the details. “Our policies are not to reveal our safety measures,” says Karl Fournier, director of animal care at the Granby Zoo. In 2011, governments, both European and North American, had asked museums and others to secure everything that was horn artefacts because there had been robberies. The value of the horns, called black gold, is very high. We’re on the lookout. ”
Since then, the Granby Zoo has taken certain steps, including placing them safely in safes. The institution has horns of rhinoceros lent by the federal government, which have been seized at customs from the hands of traffickers. However, these are no longer used in educational activities, as has already been the case. “We do not take more chances,” said Mr. Fournier. We keep them safe and we do not manipulate them in front of people. ”
Rhinoceros horns are highly prized by Asians, according to whom they possess aphrodisiac properties. A kilo can be worth up to US $ 50,000, making the impressive pachyderm vulnerable to poaching.
In a zoo west of Paris, at the beginning of the week, a rhinoceros was thus shot three bullets in the middle of the night. Its horns were sawn and the main one was stolen. Estimated value of the flight: between 30 000 and 40 000 euros (50 000 $).
“It’s a challenge for us, what happened in France,” says Fournier. It is very deplorable. To see these acts that are called barbarians, we find it very difficult, but it also obliges us to requestion. We think that because we live in America, we can be protected from this kind of act there and ultimately, maybe not. We are glad to have measures in place to avoid this kind of drama. ”
“Rhino populations are in decline in the world because there is a lot of poaching,” he continues. There are places that are so sensitive that they put rhinoceros on the rhinoceros to track them and there are guards watching them to prevent poachers from shooting them down. ”
The conservation department of the Granby Zoo has already examined the question of the supposed aphrodisiac virtues attributed to the famous horns. A researcher at Université Laval, at the end of his work, came to the conclusion that it was a myth. “The horn structure is made of keratin. It is the same principle as if we eat our nails or our hair, “summarizes Mr. Fournier.
Security measures are in place for artefacts, for rhinoceros, but also for the entire herd of the zoo, “Fournier said. For although the Granby Zoo has never been the victim of a theft similar to that in France, it has however managed to manage attempts to introduce nocturnes within its walls in recent years.
“We know that there is an attraction to enter a zoo. We are very vigilant. We have had recourse in the past to the police in Granby, who have been working very well with us and who have come at night because our means of security have worked well, “said Mr. Fournier. These are many of the young people who want by challenge, for fun getting into the zoo. Whether it is for pleasure or to commit a misdeed, these things are not tolerated for safety and protection of animals. ”