RHINO heads and their valuable horns were stolen in a dramatic raid on the National Museum archives last night.
Three masked men entered the building and tied up the security man on duty before loading the heads of the stuffed animals, plus their prized horns, into a large white van.
Rhino horns are much sought after by certain practitioners of Chinese medicine who believe them to hold curative and aphrodisiac properties.
The value of the property stolen is understood to be as much as €500,000.
The raiders were in the building for about an hour between approximately 10.40pma and 11.40pm last night.
The security man later freed himself and raised the alarm. He was uninjured after the ordeal.
Gardai have begun an investigation and the scene at Balheary Road, Swords Co Dublin is currently sealed off for a forensic technical examination.
An incident room has been set up at Swords Garda Station and anyone with information is asked to contact 01 666 4700.