NC Zoo to burn nearly $1M worth of ivory, horns to raise awareness of plight of elephants, rhinos

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ASHEBORO, N.C. -- The illegal sale of ivory and rhino horn threatens the survival of both elephants and rhinos. The North Carolina Zoo is planning a dramatic event to raise public awareness about the problem.

As part of the celebration of International Elephant Day on Aug. 12, the zoo, in a demonstration of solidarity with elephant and rhino conservation programs around the world, will burn more than 200 pounds of elephant tusks and rhino horn valued at nearly a million dollars.

“The blunt facts are that ivory comes from dead elephants, rhino horns come from dead rhinos and these commodities have value. So this is really symbolic,” said Zoo Chief Veterinarian Dr. Mike Loomis. “By incinerating this mass of ivory and rhino horn we are taking these things that are valuable on the black market and we are rendering them valueless.”

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

“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.” Loomis said.

By destroying the elephant tusks and rhino horn, the zoo hopes to send a strong message to the international community about the need to curtail the black market of animal artifacts that help to destroy wild populations.

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  • Jimmy

    Why burn it? Why not sell it legally and donate 100% of money to conservation and preservation efforts.

    • Thomas Noell

      Even though I am involved in many animal welfare organizations and causes, I couldn’t agree more with most of the comments on this forum that state that the ivory be sold to legitimate, non-exploitative groups that are not involved with the illegal ivory trade and use that $1 million to raise awareness to the plight of elephants and rhinos. Just destroying it and getting nothing in return makes no sense whatsoever when at least a modest sale could be used to help endangered animals.

  • RJ Allen

    This is a knee jerk & protest move that accomplishes Nothing. $1m in sale of legal ivory goes a long way in care & maintenance at teh zoo and/or funding of efforts to stop poaching as well as the black market in aminals and animal parts.

  • Ann Early

    People who think that there can be a legal, sustainable trade in the body parts of murdered elephants, do some research! I suggest,,,, and to begin with. Read about what has happened to elephants since CITES allowed a sale of stockpiled ivory to China in 2008. The ivory trade is immoral. It requires brutality, blood, terror and grief. Every single piece. People all over the world MUST STOP thinking of the teeth of these intelligent, socially complex, and emotional creatures as a legitimate commodity. The supply of ivory only whets demand. Good for the NC Zoo!

  • Jackie Strouble

    Destroying ivory stockpiles seems counter-intuitive at first to the uninitiated and uninformed. But desperate times require desperate measures. We’ve tried the legal/illegal market controls and they are not working. The trade has only increased. Elephant populations are being decimated. Latest surveys put the number of African elephants killed for their ivory at ONE EVERY 15 MINUTES! Rhinos are in similar dire circumstances. At this rate both the African elephant and rhino will be extinct within a decade or so. This is happening because corruption is rampant. Illegal ivory is being laundered and passed off as legal. National governments are finally taking steps to curtail the trade, but local officials are being bribed into turning a blind eye to poaching, transport, and sale of illegal ivory. A large part of the profits from the illegal ivory trade is going to support extremist groups, including affiliates of al-Qaida, which is of great concern to national and international security. Ivory markets have to be shut down entirely to curtail the carnage and ivory poachers and smugglers have to face stiff penalties for any further infraction. This is only possible if all trade in ivory is made illegal. Destroying stockpiled ivory and rhino horn signals a shift in policy and is the first step on the only avenue left to us to save the elephant and the rhino from extinction.

  • Y.4.A.W

    Reblogged this on Y.4.A.W and commented:
    On World Elephant Day the North Carolina Zoo plans to burn their rhino horn & elephant tusk stockpiles valued at about 1 million US dollars as their way of taking a stand against rhino and elephant poaching.

  • Elephant Lovers (@elephantlovers)

    Destroying stockpiles does nothing for already long dead animals, and the poachers could care less what the US does. It sends absolutely no message to them. What matters to poachers is cash in hand and that comes from China’s carving factories which buy the bloody tusks. No cash and the trade stops there – as well there are no statues and chop sticks in retail shops and nothing for consumers to buy.If the zoos wants to do something, then pressure Zhao Shucong of China’s State Forestry Admin to stop licensing the factories and retool them to carve in resin, as well as stop his bear bile, tiger bone wine and other animal misery and death he oversees. Name names NC Zoo, this bloody death of wildlife is mainly due to China’s involvement.

    It’s also hypocritical of any zoo to be worried about elephants since any zoo elephant is just waiting to die while in a zoo – of boredom and in pain from not being able to travel as their bodies are genetically programmed to do. Zoos are enslaved cramped prisons for large mammals. Totally antiquated and time to stop the addition to this passe form of entertainment at the expense of innocent animals.

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