Zoo furious after names scratched into rhino’s back

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Eastern black rhinoceros

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LES MATHES, France – It’s one thing to scrawl your name on a random wall. Staff at one of France’s most-visited zoos say visitors instead chose to make their mark on a rhinoceros’ back.

La Palmyre Zoo says it was “outraged by the stupidity and disrespect” of the visitors who apparently used fingernails to scratch the names “Camille” and “Julien” into the dead skin and dust on the back on a 35-year-old female rhino named Noëlle, per the Hill. Disgust was a common reaction to photos circulated online, per Global News.

The zoo says visitors are able to touch the rhino near the perimeter of its enclosure and usually do so respectfully, reports AFP. However, wildlife protection charity Le Biome argues the zoo “fell short of standards” for permitting that kind of interaction to occur.

Zoo director Pierre Caille says the names were brushed away and “there was no harm to the animal,” who “may not even have realized” what happened. He adds zoo officials will not be taking legal action, though they are considering adding surveillance cameras. (Read more rhinocerosstories.)

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