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OFFBEAT

French zoo to turn Panda poo into power

Not content with housing a pair of celebrity pandas that attract hordes of avid onlookers, a zoo in France has decided to put their droppings to good use by recycling them into gas and electricity.

French zoo to turn Panda poo into power
File photo: Dannorth1

Yuan Zi and Huan Huan – "Chubby" and "Happy" in Chinese – arrived at Beauval zoo in central France in January last year, on loan from China for 10 years at a cost of around a million dollars a year.

The zoo announced on Friday it would build a facility that would process the dung of the two pandas and of other animals, as well as plant matter, to
produce biogas that will then be turned into heat and electricity.

The plant, which will cost 2.3 million euros ($3 million), is expected to be operative in the spring of 2014.

Some of the energy produced will be used to keep gorillas and manatees – also known as sea cows – warm in their pens, and to heat the building that houses elephants in the winter, allowing a 40 percent saving on the gas bill.

The rest will be transformed into electricity and sold to French power giant EDF.

"This initiative is a perfect fit in the policy of sustainable development that we have been applying for a long time," said Delphine Delord, spokeswoman for the zoo.

Pandas are an endangered species and only about 1,600 remain in the wild in China.

Some 300 others are in captivity worldwide — mostly in China, but also in 15 foreign zoos where they are sent as part of Beijing's efforts to use soft power to boost its image, the so-called "panda diplomacy."

They eat 35 kilos (78 pounds) of bamboo a day and defecate about 30 kilos a day, making them prime candidates for this green initiative.

Beauval zoo has a total of 4,600 animals and attracted some one million visitors last year.

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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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