TWO young rhinos at a Yorkshire theme park are being locked up at night for their own safety amid growing fears they may be targeted by poachers.
Staff at Flamingo Land, near Malton, said they were taking the precaution to protect Zimba and Balu, a pair of male white rhinos who arrived at the park in December, over fears they may be at risk because of their valuable horns.
A general alert was issued to UK wildlife parks two years ago and police now say they have received a tip-off regarding a specific plot targeting the animals in south-east England.
Poachers in Africa regularly shoot rhinos for their horns, which are highly valued for alternative medicine in parts of Asia.
Rhino horn is worth £65,000 a kilo – making it more valuable than gold, cocaine, and heroin.
Ross Snipp, zoo manager at Flamingo Land, said: “We have 24-hour security at Flamingo Land and the building is as secure as we can make it but this new news is starting to become a very real concern and a danger for us.
“We are being extra vigilant and making sure we lock them away safely at night, which is a shame for them, because if they are running around in the yards and paddocks at night there’s an extra risk.
“The 24/7 security are making sure they do regular patrols around the zoo at night.”
Two animal parks in Kent have called for volunteers to help them carry out 24-hour patrols, while police have also stepped up surveillance.
Last month, the Duke of Cambridge urged a global conference on wildlife protection to do more to tackle the illegal killing of rhinos.