• France's news in English

French UNESCO site evicts baboon vandals

Ben McPartland · 12 Jul 2013, 15:47

Published: 12 Jul 2013 15:47 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The management in charge of one of France’s most famous World Heritage sites has been forced to evict a mob of baboons who had begun vandalizing the site.

The Citadel of Besançon in eastern France, described as one of military architect Vauban's masterpieces, has had to kick the baboons out of the site’s zoological gardens because of the damage they were causing to the historic site.

Despite the ramparts being five to six metres thick and 15 to 20 metres high in some places it appears the primates were set on breaking through.

“They don’t do anything out of the ordinary. Just like in the wild they tinker with things and pull at the grass, but then they started to pull out small stones at the joints in the wall. And you have to remember we are a UNESCO World Heritage Site,” said Gerard Galliot, director of the Museum of Natural History, which houses the zoo.

The baboons have been among the animals at the Citadel’s zoological gardens for forty years. But when the numbers got too high they were placed in a pen next to the Citadel’s walls.

That appears to have been a bad move but Galliot insists the monument remains intact.

“Everything is still standing, the walls of the Vauban citadel have held out for many centuries, but these baboons are just not used to these places,” he said.

The primate gang is to be broken up with new homes to be found for them far and wide. Some have already been sent off to a zoo in Algeria, others will be given new lodgings at a zoo in the south west and 13 are still to be re-housed.

Story continues below…

The Citadel of Besançon was built in the 17th century by Vauban and occupies an 11 hectare sight on Mount Saint-Etienne overlooking the capital of Franche-Comté.  It was designated a World Heritage site in 2008 and is visited by around a quarter of a million tourists each year.

As well as the zoo the citadel’s natural history museum also houses an aquarium , a botanical gardens and a children’s farm.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available