The zoo director says "the dehorned rhino is definitely a better option than the dead rhino"
A Czech zoo has announced it has started removing the horns from its rhinos in a bid to protect them from poachers.
Dvur Králove Zoo says its decision follows the incident at Thoiry Zoo, near Paris earlier this month.
In that case, a rhino was shot dead by poachers who then sliced off its horn with a chainsaw.
It has been reported that ivory horns can be sold on the black market for tens of thousands of euro.
The Czech zoo - which has a total of 21 rhinos - says the decision to remove the horns was taken in response to the French attack.
Vets have already removed the horn of Pamir, a southern white rhino male.
Premysl Rabas, director of the zoo, explained: "The decision to remove rhino horns was not made easily at all. However, the risk that the rhinos currently face not only in the wild but even in zoos is too high and the safety of the animals is our first concern. The dehorned rhino is definitely a better option than the dead rhino.
"We will cut the horns of all rhinos that need it. For instance, male Natal rubs his horn on his own, so in his case it is not necessary."
Dvur Králove Zoo says it is not the first time they have undertaken the procedure, and they have previously removed or shortened rhinos‘ horns for safety during transport, or for health reasons.
Zoo officials stress the procedure is painless for the animals, and note that the horns gradually grow back.
"If the situation gets better in future, there will not be a problem [in letting] the horns grow back," they note.
The Pairi Daiza zoo in Belgium has already announced it is shortening rhino horns over poaching fears.