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Austrian arrested at Paris airport with 80 birds in hand luggage

French police have arrested an Austrian man at a Paris airport after he flew in from Mexico with 80 small birds stashed in his hand luggage, a judicial source said Wednesday.

Austrian arrested at Paris airport with 80 birds in hand luggage
Illustration photo: AFP
Although all but one of the birds were still alive when they were discovered at Roissy airport, a further 55 have since died, the source added.
   
The birds were discovered on Friday in boxes hidden in three bags.
   
The Austrian collector, who is already facing court action in Germany, claimed to be passionate about birds.
   
The birds, many of which feed on nectar, likely died because of the “transport conditions and the stress of their capture,” the source said.
   
Exceptional permission was given to allow the birds to leave the airport instead of facing quarantine conditions. 
   
The illicit avian cargo was placed in the care of vets before the surviving birds were taken to a permanent home on Wednesday.

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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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