Michael Flatley has been challenged to prove his rhino horn is legal – and slammed for collecting it by animal rights campaigners.
The challenge comes as Irish police investigate the robbery of the $500,000 rhino horn from Flatley’s Cork mansion.
Detectives believe a Limerick gang who specialize in rhino horn sales on the black market were responsible for the daring robbery while Flatley and his family were in their Castlehyde home.
The Friends of the Irish Environment group have written to local authorities in Ireland asking them to confirm that Flatley is legally entitled to own the valuable horn.
They wrote: “We note the recent burglary from Michael Flatley of Castlehyde House, Fermoy of a rhinoceros horn.
“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.”
The Irish Sun reports that Flatley has praised police for their rapid response to the raid.
He said: “I don’t really want to say much because the gardai (police) are examining the house. I don’t want to interfere with their investigation in any way.
“But I will say that the gardai (police) have been absolutely fantastic. They were here within minutes of the alarm being raised. In fact, I couldn’t believe how fast they arrived.”
Lord of the Dance star Flatley has also been condemned by animal rights activists for collecting rhino horn.
The pressure group Unite Against Poaching asked why the Riverdance creator had the horn in the first place.
The Animal Rights Action Network hit out at Flatley. Founder, John Carmody, said he was ‘absolutely disgusted’.
He wrote to Flatley: “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.”