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OFFBEAT

Flock to Paris: Sheep see the sites on tasting tour of French capital

A flock of sheep that has taken a 140-kilometre tour around Paris, nibbling on grass at historic monuments and housing blocks along the way, ended their 12-day journey on the banks of the river Seine on Wednesday.

Flock to Paris: Sheep see the sites on tasting tour of French capital
All photos: AFP
The trip began in the low-income Parisian suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis on July 6 and ended on Wednesday with the 25-strong flock on the left bank of the Seine near the Trocadero gardens in central Paris.
 
It was organised by local authorities to highlight the advantages of urban farming, in collaboration with a group called Urban Shepherds based in Aubervilliers, just north of Paris.
 
   
Guided by two shepherds, the flock was monitored by policemen on scooters and volunteer “walkers” on foot who helped them cross roads as they moved around the capital.
 
   
“For us, the most important thing is to show that it's possible to have sheep in the city,” Julie-Lou Dubreuilh, co-founder of Urban Shepherds, told AFP at the start of the trip.
 
   
“The idea is to show there is a new up-and-coming profession,” added the group's other founder, Guillaume Leterrier. “It is possible to create exceptional micro-sectors of meat production, while ensuring that green spaces are maintained, like we've done in the last three years.”  
 
   
Dubreuilh and Leterrier both have contracts with social housing landlords to let their animals graze on a weekly basis on the public housing estates of 
Seine-Saint-Denis. 
 
   
The unusual presence of livestock caught the attention of many amused Parisians and motorists — with some taking pictures or bleating in support.
 
Groups in Lyon, Marseille and Bruxelles are also experimenting with urban sheep.

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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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