Incinerating the 20 pounds of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horns in storage at the N.C. Zoo in Asheboro – and worth $1 million on the black market – seems like a good idea to director David Jones, and to us.
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 Africa that the population might be a human generation from extinction.
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. Any other zoo might simply go to its board of directors to get the OK, but the N.C. Zoo is one of two in the country that are state-owned.
The State Bureau of Investigation, for example, has to be satisfied there’s no criminal activity covered up by the destruction of state property. State lawyers are making sure destroying it doesn’t violate state law.
Although there have not been many thefts in the United States, there have been at least 60 reports of ivory stolen from European museums and private collections.
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.