Stolen rhino horn found by police


Lindsay Freed, Senior Staff Writer

UVM’s black rhinoceros horn has been recovered nearly a year after it was reported stolen.

The horn, valued at $200,000, was recovered March 6 by police in Ridgefield, Connecticut after UVM police received an initial tip that a suspect lived there, according to UVM police.

The suspect was offered immunity by Ridgefield police because it was determined that the horn would not be returned without it, according to UVM police.

“Getting it back took precedence over holding someone criminally accountable,” UVM police Deputy Chief Tim Bilodeau said.

The case is still open, and as information develops it is possible charges may be filed against other individuals, Bilodeau said.

“I think it’s a rare thing to get something like this back a year later without it being harmed,” he said. “To get the thing back in the shape it was, for the most part [in the shape it was in] when it was taken, is part of the mission of our department.”

Biology department staff discovered the horn was missing from the Zadock Thompson Zoological Collections in Torrey hall April 27, 2017, according a May 2017 Cynic article.

The horn was believed to be headed to the black market, according to the article.

Biology professor Bill Kilpatrick, who curates the vertebrates collection, said he found out about the horn’s recovery from a colleague’s email.

“I thought it was a joke,” Kilpatrick said. “I thought my colleague was kidding until [UVM police] confirmed the horn was recovered.”

Now that the horn is back at UVM, it’s being kept “under lock and key,” he said.

“The horn will hopefully be displayed to the public with additional security once the building’s renovation is complete,” Kilpatrick said.

Torrey hall is undergoing restoration after the building caught on fire last August, he said.

UVM was given the horn sometime in the early 1900s, making it roughly 100-years-old, Kilpatrick said.

Before it was stolen, the horn had been used for teaching, but it also has potential for conservation research, he said.

The recovery and return of the horn to the zoological collections incredible, said senior Diana Gurvich, who was an intern with the invertebrate collection when the horn was stolen.

“After nearly a year, the horn’s safe recovery seems nothing short of miraculous,” she said.