A RARE BLACK rhino horn has been stolen from a locked conservation cabinet at Drusillas Zoo yesterday, August 31.
Forcing the lock on the unit, the thieves targeted the glass case during normal operating hours. Bypassing all other items, they escaped with the rhino horn sometime between 4.15 and 4.30pm.
Shortly after, staff saw two men running away from the scene and acting suspiciously. They were described as caucasian 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.
Sue Woodgate (pictured), zoo manager, 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 artefact was on display as part of a CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) education exhibit, secured within the confines of the inner zoo.
The robbery 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.
Laurence Smith, zoo director, said: “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.”
Anyone with information contact the zoo on 01323 874100 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.