Poaching has severely diminished rhino populations across the world over the past few years. It was reported that there are now only 30,000 rhinos left alive. However, two visitors in a French zoo seemed unaware of this fact.
|Photo Credit: Evening Standard|
The Evening Standard, a local, free daily newspaper published in tabloid format in London, recently reported that Noelle, a 35-year-old rhino at Zoo de la Palmyre, had names carved on his back that were believed to have been inscribed using fingernails on a layer of dead skin and mud. The names were Camile and Julien. The rhino seemed to not know that his skin had been vandalized. However, this incident sparked much outrage.
|Photo Credit: @thaimythbuster on Twitter (via Evening Standard)|
Some people even noticed that Noelle looked skinny. However, the zoo assured the public that although he was indeed thinner than others, he’s doing well. They also stated that their rhinos get alfalfa throughout the day with pellets, apples, and carrots (and alfalfa again) in the evening. The zoo, which receives around 700,000 visitors a year, stated that they will not be taking legal action against the unknown vandals.
|Photo Credit: Zoo de La Palmyre on Facebook (via Irish Post)|
In a statement released on their Facebook page, La Palmyre zoo said that the names were quickly erased with the help of a brush and did not cause any discomfort to the animal. According to The Irish Post, the voice of the global Irish diaspora that offers exclusive news and features, the zoo insisted that the opportunity for visitors touch the skin of the rhinos is supposed to be a "moving experience” and not disrespectful.
“Our Rhino can position against the wall of their enclosure, close to the visitors if they wish. When the rhino is against the wall, visitors actually have the opportunity to touch the skin of their back and the vast majority do it with respect. We believe that being able to approach such an animal raises the emotion of the visitor and allows it to raise awareness not only about diversity but also to the majesty of the living around us,” the statement reads.