French police were investigating Thursday the theft of a diamond-studded dog collar from a grave at the world's oldest pet cemetery, whose most famous tenant is Hollywood canine star Rin Tin Tin.

"/> French police were investigating Thursday the theft of a diamond-studded dog collar from a grave at the world's oldest pet cemetery, whose most famous tenant is Hollywood canine star Rin Tin Tin.

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OFFBEAT

Diamond collar buried with Paris poodle stolen

French police were investigating Thursday the theft of a diamond-studded dog collar from a grave at the world's oldest pet cemetery, whose most famous tenant is Hollywood canine star Rin Tin Tin.

Diamond collar buried with Paris poodle stolen
Nana B Agyei

“The grave of a dog buried with a diamond collar worth €9,000 ($11,700) was desecrated on the night of February 4th to 5th. The investigation is being conducted by the local station,” a police official told AFP.

A wealthy American industrialist’s wife had buried the poodle in 2003 in a marble tomb whose headstone includes a large red heart and an image of a black poodle. The name “Tipsy” was covered with orange tape on Wednesday.

For years the legend of a dog buried with a diamond necklace had circulated in the town, according to cemetery pet owners, but it was only after the theft that police confirmed the truth of what had been thought an urban myth.

Asnières mayor Sebastien Pietrasanta admitted he was astonished that such a valuable necklace had been buried with an animal, but was at pains to insist: “Treasure is not hidden in the tombs of all the dogs and cats.”

Today the French cemetery houses the tombs of 3,000 animals, most of them dogs and cats but also others like Kiki the monkey, Bunga the rabbit, Faust the sheep, several horses and even a lion, staff said.

The tombs are adorned with animal photos, colourful marbles, gnome figurines, angel statuettes, fake mini Christmas trees.

Inscriptions include “to my baby,” “love of our life,” and “loyal companion and only friend of my vagabond and sorry life.”

The wooded alleys and rows of tombs are listed as a historical site and are today owned by the Asnières-sur-Seine local council, and were closed for a few days for a preliminary investigation and to restore the tomb.

Lying by the Seine river, the cemetery was founded in 1899 after the passing of a law requiring pets to be buried in plots 100 metres (328 feet) from homes and with at least a metre of soil covering the remains.

The law forbade residents from “throwing dead beasts into the woods, rivers, ponds, roadsides or from burying them in stables,” according to author Laurent Lasne’s 1988 book about the cemetery, “Island for Dogs.”

The most famous inhabitant is German Shepherd Rin Tin Tin, who starred in more than 20 Hollywood movies in the 1920s, but other stars include police dogs and the pets of French writer Alexandre Dumas and actor Sacha Guitry.

Dead animals aside, the cemetery also has a hut, complete with cat doors, for the dozen abandoned cats who roam the grounds and sit on tombstones.

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TOURISM

France’s Asterix park to shut down dolphin show

A major amusement park in northern France said on Monday it would close its dolphin and sea lion aquarium, the day before lawmakers start to debate new animal welfare rules.

France's Asterix park to shut down dolphin show
France has long discussed imposing stricter rules on using wild animals in amusement parks. Illustration photo: AFP

The dolphin shows are a popular attraction at Parc Asterix, which normally has some two million visitors a year, but have long been a target of animal rights activists.

“We've been thinking about this for several years,” the park's managing director Nicolas Kremer told Le Parisien newspaper, saying the site wanted to focus instead on rides and other shows.

He said the dolphins would be transferred to other aquariums in Europe in the next two months, adding: “Reintroduction in a natural environment is not possible for these animals raised in captivity.”

A ban on captive breeding of dolphins and other marine mammals as well as their use in shows is a key part of the draft law, with the debate due to begin on Tuesday.

A previous effort to outlaw the practices by decree in 2017 was thrown out by the Council of State, France's highest administrative court, but animal rights group have kept up pressure for the ban.

“These associations think that captivity is abuse, but I can tell you that we have always ensured the wellbeing of our animals,” Kremer said.

The park, based on the beloved Asterix the Gaul comics, is hoping to reopen for the busy summer season on April 3rd if coronavirus restrictions are lifted by then.

READ ALSO: Disneyland Paris to begin 'phased reopening' in July

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