White rhinoceros Gracie (left) and Bruno are seen in their enclosure at Thoiry zoo and wildlife park in France on Tuesday.
Rhinoceros horn is highly lucrative and can sell for more than its weight in gold on the black market.
The powdered horn is used to treat illnesses including cancer, fevers, and even hangovers, according to the WWF, but in Vietnam it is also purchased as a status symbol. The other horn was only partially cut, leading investigators to believe the criminals may have been interrupted. The zoo says a couple pounds of the horn could be worth up to $50,000.
On Facebook, the zoo said Vince was found by a "keeper who was very attached to him and is deeply upset".
The white rhino was shot in the head several times.
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Two other rhinos in the enclosure ― 5-year-old Bruno and 37-year-old Grace ― were unharmed. And zoos may find themselves implementing other anti-poaching systems to fill any gaps in the animal-protection systems they already have, which include cameras, gates, and staff presence.
Animal parks across Europe have been put on alert.
Poachers broke into a French zoo overnight and fatally shot a rhinoceros before using a chain saw to remove his ivory horn, authorities said Tuesday.
Vince was born at Burgers' Zoo in the Netherlands in 2012, and was transferred to the Thoiry Zoo in March 2015. However, they are still classified by the World Wildlife Fund as "near-threatened" and poachers have been responsible for killing record numbers in recent years. "It's a job for professionals".
All five rhino species are on the endangered list, and are often the victims of poaching because some people believe their horns have medicinal properties.