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OFFBEAT

French family forgets child at motorway stop

A family on their way to the French Riviera for their holidays left their three-year-old daughter in a motorway layby on Sunday and drove more than 150 kilometres before realising they had "forgotten" her, police said.

French family forgets child at motorway stop
The child was left behind as her family headed for the Riviera. Photo: AFP
They only twigged she was missing when an alert was issued on French radio, officers said.
   
The child was found by other holidaymakers in a rest area off the A7 “Autoroute du Soleil” (Highway of the Sun) near Loriol in the Drome region of southern France just after lunch on Sunday.
   
All she could tell them was that she had a brother and a sister and that she was “going to the seaside” when she saw “daddy's car pull away”, a
gendarme told AFP.
   
It was only when they heard the alert — 45 minutes after the child had been found — that the parents called the police and turned around to drive back up the motorway.
   
“The family had passed Aix-en-Provence (150 kilometres or 93 miles away) and were going towards Saint-Raphael and none of them had noticed she wasn't there,” the officer said.
   
The parents were being questioned Sunday evening by officers at the police station where the child was being looked after.
   
“We are going to listen to what they have to say and talk to the prosecutor at Valence to see if this should be taken further,” the officer added.
   
Millions of French families take to the roads during August's annual holiday rush to the sea and mountains, putting often unbearable strain on the country's motorway system and their own nerves.
 

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OFFBEAT

France’s mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo

A black panther rescued from rooftops near the northern city of Lille last week has been stolen from the zoo where it was taken after capture, officials said.

France's mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo
Photo: AFP/ Sapeurs Pompiers du Nord

The feline was seized overnight from the zoo in Maubeuge near the Belgian border, the city's mayor, Arnaud Decagny, told AFP on Tuesday.

“This animal was the only target,” Decagny said, adding that “considerable efforts” were made to force locks and avoid security systems.

Zoo personnel are worried about the young panther's health, “which is rather delicate because he lacks strength,” the mayor added, saying the animal was just a few months old and weighed between 25 and 30kg.

The panther after its capture. Photo League Protectrice des Animaux de la Nord de France/AFP

The panther was going to be transferred to a centre specialised in rehabilitating wild animals that had been domesticated.

Firefighters caught the cat last Wednesday as it roamed rooftops in Armentieres after escaping through the window of a private apartment believed to have been its home.

The panther's owner is thought to have escaped through the same window, for fear of being charged with illegally harbouring a wild animal.

Police have not located the fugitive owner, who could face charges of endangering the public, which is punishable by up to a year in prison and €15,000 in fines, Decagny said.

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