Black day for zoo after rare rhino horn theft

Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate with artefacts at the CITES cabinet
Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate with artefacts at the CITES cabinet

A RARE black rhino horn believed to be worth thousands of pounds was taken by thieves who targeted Drusillas.

The artefact, on display at the Alfriston zoo as part of an education exhibit, was stolen from a locked conservation cabinet.

Forcing the lock on the unit, the thieves targeted the glass case during opening hours last Wednesday (August 31) and escaped between 4.15 and 4.30pm.

Shortly afterwards, staff saw two men running away from the scene and acting suspiciously.

They were described as white and in their late teens to early twenties.

One was wearing a baseball cap and sportswear, while the other had a horizontal blue and white striped top with jeans.

They were last seen heading on foot in the direction of Alfriston village.

Zoo manager Sue Woodgate said, “I am extremely upset that the rhino horn has been stolen.

“The horn itself is off-white and triangular shaped, measuring approximately 15cm in diameter.

“Artefacts play an important role in education at Drusillas; they are used to explain to our visitors about the illegal trade in animal products and spread a vital conservation message.

“To have such a precious item stolen for personal gain beggars belief.”

The theft is the latest in a chain of similar attacks on collections and museums throughout Europe.

Sadly the demand for rhino horn on the black market is high, fuelling a value which is currently greater than gold.

Zoo director Laurence Smith added, “It can be no coincidence that during a global spate of attacks our own black rhino horn has also been targeted.

“Police are investigating the crime and we are currently looking through our CCTV footage.

“However if anyone has any information in connection with the incident or saw anything suspicious, please contact us as soon as possible on 874100 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Pictured: Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate with artefacts at the CITES cabinet