Burning of elephant ivory, rhino horns at NC Zoo postponed

ASHEBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoo has postponed the burning of elephant ivory and rhino horns that was planned for Tuesday.

Legal issues concerning the destruction of state property are being examined.

The zoo had planned to burn more than 200 pounds of elephant tusks and rhino horn valued at nearly a million dollars at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The zoo said in a statement that while it does not put a value on the ivory and horns, the artifacts are state property and thus subject to applicable state law.

The burn was meant to raise awareness of a global crisis within the animal community. Last year, more than 30,000 elephants and 1,000 rhinos were killed and their increasingly valuable ivory and horns were sold illegally.

“In my work in Cameroon, I’ve seen the carnage. Since about 2000, 60 percent of the elephants have been killed, mostly by poachers. If these levels of poaching continue, elephants will no longer be in the wild and that would be a major tragedy,” said Zoo Chief Veterinarian Dr. Mike Loomis last week.

The North Carolina Zoo has been heavily involved in elephant conservation in Central Africa since 1998.

“We remain fully committed to doing our part to demonstrate that these animal parts should be worthless,” said Dr. David Jones, the zoo’s director. “But we must do so in a responsible manner and in adhering to all manners of state law with regard to their destruction.”

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