While the stockpile mostly comes from the remains of animals that once lived at the zoo, getting rid of it in such fashion would also be the longtime keeper's symbolic jab against animal poaching. The illegal and unethical act of killing animals for their parts has so dramatically reduced the herds of elephants and rhinos in
Problem is, it's not up to Jones, who has spent decades in the international zoo world. The N.C. zoological park is a state attraction and there are layers of complication for destroying state property -- even that with no legal value. Any other zoo might simply go to its board of directors to get the OK, but the
Overseas, poachers kill -- law enforcement, each other, the animals -- for the items.
Importing virtually all ivory has been banned under a federal law designed to reduce slaughter of endangered elephants. The population has been reduced by about 90 percent just in the last three decades.
That hasn't slowed the number of elephants and rhinos being lost to criminal enterprise. The pieces are traded for drugs and guns and fuel terrorist activities. Then there's the seemingly insatiable demand for ivory in
The rhino horns are ground and used for medicinal purposes, mostly in Asian cultures. But the value in curing anything has been proven to be a myth.
The leaders of African countries were at the
"It's reached a level where we will see extinction within one human generation," said Jones, who has visited a site where poachers left the remains of about 70 elephants.
The pieces have very little educational value for the zoo because plastic models can be used. Jones had planned to place the pieces in an incinerator used to cremate animals.
Hanging onto the stockpile is something of a liability. Although there have not been many thefts in
For the time being, the bounty remains out of the public's view in an undisclosed location to prevent theft .
Ultimately , it should be destroyed to ensure it's never stolen and sold overseas.
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