Two zoo visitors have sparked outrage for scratching their names on to a rhino in France.
The 35-year-old animal was pictured with the words Camille and Julien etched on to its hide
Pierre Caille, director of La Palmyre zoo, which is around 500km south of Paris, told Sky News how Noelle the rhino had the names inscribed on a layer of mud and dead skin on her back.
He added she did not experience any pain and was being looked after, but called the action “stupid and disrespectful”.
In a statement, the zoo said rhinos could come and stand near the wall of their enclosure, within touching distance of visitors.
“Visitors have the opportunity to touch the skin of their back and the vast majority do so with respect,” it explained.
“We believe that being able to approach such an animal arouses the visitor’s emotions and makes them aware not only of the diversity but also of the majesty of life around us.”
But last Sunday, Noelle was later found with two names etched into her hide, with the images shared widely on social media.
AFP reported the visitors used their nails to scratch the words and the zoo was considering now erecting CCTV in the area.
French wildlife protection charity Le Biome also told the French news agency the actions “fell short of standards” required for allowing “this type of interaction”.