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OFFBEAT

Museum thief hacks off Louis XIV elephant tusk

A man broke into the Paris natural history museum early Saturday and used a chainsaw to hack off the tusk of an elephant that belonged to King Louis XIV of France, officials said.

Museum thief hacks off Louis XIV elephant tusk
Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Police arrested the man in a nearby street as he was making his escape and recovered the three-kilogram (seven-pound) tusk, museum workers said.

The elephant whose skeleton is preserved in the popular museum was given as a gift in 1668 by the king of Portugal to Louis XIV, who was also known as the Sun King.

The animal's tusks are not the original ones but were added to the skeleton in the 19th century.

Police made no immediate comment about why the man tried to steal the tusk but the incident comes amid a series of thefts in recent years of ivory from European museums and zoos.

The international trade in elephant ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after elephant populations in Africa dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to some 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.

Yet poachers continue to slaughter elephants to lay their hands on their precious ivory and the illegal trade in the white gold continues to boom.

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ANIMAL

Paris authorities to shut down bird market over cruelty concerns

The Paris city council on Wednesday agreed to shut down a live bird market operating in the historic centre close to Notre Dame cathedral, responding to rights activists who called it a cruel and archaic operation.

Paris authorities to shut down bird market over cruelty concerns
Photo: AFP

The bird market on Louis Lepine square in the centre of the French capital has long been a fixture in Paris, operating close to the famous flower market.

But Christophe Najdovski, Paris' deputy mayor in charge of animal welfare, said that the market was a centre for bird trafficking in France while conditions for the birds were not acceptable.

“This is why we are committed to changing the regulations to ban the sale of birds and other animals,” he said.

The closure had been urged by activists from the Paris Animals Zoopolis collective who had called the practice of showing the caged birds “cruel and archaic”.

France and Paris have in the last months adopted a series of measures aiming to show they are at the forefront of efforts to protect animal welfare.

The government said in September it planned to “gradually” ban mink farms as well the use of wild animals in travelling circuses and dolphins and orcas in theme parks.

Parc Asterix, which normally has some two million visitors a year, announced last month it would close its dolphin and sea lion aquarium.

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