Zoo hits out at 'stupid' visitors who scratched names into rhino's back

The names were scrawled into the rhino's back
The names were scrawled into the rhino's back
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A zoo has criticised two visitors for scratching their names into a rhino’s back.

The names “Camille” and “Julien” were etched into the 35-year-old animal’s skin at La Palmyre Zoo in south-western France.

Director Pierre Caille said visitors are allowed to touch the animals, but condemned the behaviour, according to the Independent.

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“A disrespectful person engraved names in the layer of dust and dead skin on the back of the rhinoceros,” he said.

A spokesperson for the zoo said they were “outraged by the stupidity and disrespect” shown by the pair.

They confirmed, however, the zoo would not be taking legal action against them.

The names “were quickly erased with the help of a brush and did not cause any discomfort to the animal", the zoo said in a statement.

“Although the vast majority of our visitors show reservations and responsibility, unfortunately, there are always exceptions to confirm the rule," the statement said.

“At this point, we obviously remain attentive to the evolution of behaviour and reflect on the strengthening of our surveillance and security measures.”

Shortly after images of the animal were shared online Le Biome, a French wildlife protection charity, said the zoo “fell short of standards” by allowing visitors to touch the animals so easily.

The zoo said it would now be installing CCTV as part of new measures to protect the animals.

Rhinos are rarely seen in the wild.

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Three of the animal’s five species are critically endangered, largely due to the lucrative poaching trade.

La Palmyre Zoo has about 1,600 animals on its site and is visited by 750,000 people each year.

Between 1960 and 1995, black rhino numbers dropped by a sobering 98 per cent to less than 2,500.

Thanks to persistent conservation efforts across Africa, black rhino numbers have doubled from their historic low 20 years ago to between 5,042 and 5,455 today.

But the animals are still considered to be “critically endangered”.