Poachers kill rhino for its horn at French zoo

PHOTO: The four-year-old male white rhino called Vince is seen in this undated handout picture released by the Domaine de Thoiry, Thoiry zoo and wildlife park, March 7, 2017. PlayDomaine de Thoiry/Reuters
WATCH Manhunt underway for poachers at French zoo

Poachers broke into a zoo outside Paris overnight and shot and killed a rhinoceros before cutting off one of its horns, zoo officials said today.

The brazen incident is believed to be the first instance of rhino poaching in Europe.

The Thoiry Zoo, in the suburbs west of Paris, said in a statement that the poachers cut off part of the rhino's second horn too but appeared to have been interrupted or had defective equipment.

Vince, the 4-year-old male white rhino that was killed, mostly likely had his horn taken off with a chainsaw, according to the zoo.

The zoo's two other white rhinos — 37-year-old Gracie and 5-year-old Bruno — survived, the zoo said.

World Wildlife Fund, an international environmental organization that categorizes endangered species and supports conservation efforts, lists white rhinos as "near threatened" rather than endangered and cites poaching as one of the biggest threats to the species.

"White rhinos are a spectacular conservation success story, but the current poaching crisis could reverse all of our conservation gains," Matthew Lewis, an African-species expert writes on WWF's website.

After rebounding from the brink of extinction, white rhinos number more than 20,000, most of them in wildlife preserves, according to the WWF.

The French government published a decree in August 2016 prohibiting the transport or sale of elephant ivory or rhinoceros horn.

No one has been arrested yet in connection to the incident, zoo officials said.

The Thoiry Zoo told ABC News that surveillance footage of the incident was handed over to investigators.

ABC News' Paul Pradier contributed to this report.