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NC Zoo to burn ivory, rhino horns to raise awareness

Posted August 9, 2014 9:12 a.m. EDT

— In conjunction with World Elephant Day and in an effort to raise awareness about the plight of elephants and rhinos in the wild, staff members of the North Carolina Zoo on Tuesday will destroy elephant ivory and rhino horns being held at the Asheboro facility. 

In 2013, more than 30,000 elephants and 1,000 rhinos were killed for their ivory and horns, which are sold illegally throughout the world, zoo officials said. 

Experts predict that elephants and rhinos could be extinct within 30 years if poaching is not stopped. On the Asian illegal market, the North Carolina Zoo's holdings would sell for more than $1 million, officials said. 

"We want to make the point that these animal parts should be worthless," Dr. David Jones, director of the N.C. Zoo, said in a statement. "Ivory is the same material as our teeth, and rhino horns the same as our fingernails. We are close to losing some of the world's most iconic animals, and in America we are just not recognizing the severity of this situation."

Zoo staff will burn more than 200 pounds of elephant ivory and rhino horns on Tuesday morning.