Irish dance star Michael Flatley has found himself in hot water with animal rights campaigners after it emerged that a rhino horn was stolen from his home.
Flatley who lives in a mansion in Cork called in police after he was burgled and the horn, which is thought to be worth $500,000, was taken.
Police believe it was stolen by a Co Limerick gang who specialise in selling rhino horns on the black market.
Flatley has now come under fire from various animal rights groups who are disappointed that he would have wanted to collect a rhino horn in the first place and have challenged him to prove he has a legal right to own it.
John Carmody, who is founder of the Animal Rights Action Network wrote to Flatley saying: “Whilst I am sure the break-in was traumatic and stressful on you and your family’s part, has it set in or even occurred to you that neither you nor those who stole the horn are the rightful owners?
“The animals are literally on the brink of being wiped off the face of the planet.
“If the horn is recovered, you should hand it over to the group for a public burning.”
Meanwhile the Friends of the Irish Environment group want proof that Flatley has the legal right to own the horn.
In a letter to local Irish authorities they said: “As you are probably aware, possession of any parts of such endangered and protected species requires a permit or certificate of authorization under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora [CITES].
“We have spoken with the CITES Management Authority of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and they have confirmed to us that Mr Flatley must be in possession of such authorization to hold his specimen.
“We would be grateful if you could assure us that this specimen and any others held in the ‘Safari Room’ of Castlehyde have the appropriate authorization from the appropriate CITES Management Authority.”
Flatley has praised the police for the way they have dealt with the burglary. The investigation continues.