Campus Police, US Fish & Wildlife Search for Stolen Rhino Horn at University of Vermont

Professor says the horn is valuable for research and on the 'black market'

Burlington, Vt. - Law enforcement and US Fish and Wildlife are trying to find out who stole a Black Rhino Horn from a University of Vermont Collection.

Professor Bill Kilpatrick says he was shocked when he realized something was missing.

"How could somebody have taken it?" Kilpatrick said.

The Black Rhino Horn was mounted on the wall in Torrey Hall, until last Thursday.

"One of the technicians essentially noticed that it was missing and he came over and asked me if I'd moved it somewhere and I said no."

According to a report from US Fish and Wildlife, someone used a drill to get into the room.

The horn has been part of the University's natural history collection since the early 1900's. Once in the Fleming Museum, the mounted horn has been in the Department of Zoology and Biology for decades.

"It has value in the genetic information that it contains in the scientific community," Kilpatrick said.

Black Rhinos are on the endangered species list and Kilpatrick says researchers could use the horn to learn more about the rhino's past.

"By looking at the genetic material in this rhino horn that still there, you can contain obtain ideas about what genetic variation was there at the time it was killed," Kilpatrick said.

UVM Campus Public Safety is trying to find who took it. Law enforcement from US Fish and Wildlife is also involved, because of the horn's value. Kilpatrick says it could be big on the "black market."

"They're marketed as an aphrodisiac and in oriental medicine that's what they're used for. This has really contributed to the slaughter of rhinos," Kilpatrick said. "That's one reason why the species is endanger, black rhinos have the largest of the horns."

As this investigation is going on, students at UVM are getting ready for finals. Professor Kilpatrick is giving his last lecture, retiring from teaching after 42 years. He hopes this prized artifact is returned.

"How could it have disappeared? I've been here since 1974 and it's been present within the collection since that time," he said.

Kilpatrick will still be on campus, researching and overseeing the collection.

US Fish and Wildlife is offering a reward of $2,500 for any information leading to an arrest or criminal conviction. UVM Campus Public Safety is also offering a reward of $500 for any information leading to the recovery of the item.

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