(TIMBUKTU, Mali) — The president of France will soon get a “bigger and better-looking” camel after an apparent misunderstanding led to a West African family eating a camel that was originally given to him as a gift.
Authorities in Mali say they will send the replacement camel to France for safe keeping after the faux pas was discovered last week. The family of farmers in northern Mali, whom President Francois Hollande asked to care for his young camel, slaughtered the animal to make stew.
Malian officials presented Hollande with the baby camel when he visited the country in February. It was a thank you gift for France’s military intervention to help the Malian army fight back Islamist radicals who had seized more than half of the country.
As the media filmed the presentation of the camel, the animal brayed obnoxiously while Hollande joked, “I will use it as often as I can for transportation.”
But instead of flying the camel back to France, Hollande reportedly decided to send the camel to a farmer whose property had been damaged by French tanks. It is not clear whether the camel was re-gifted by Hollande or if the family had been asked only to raise the animal on behalf of the president. It is also unknown what exactly Hollande will do with the new desert animal when it arrives in rainy France.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Sheena McKenzie, CNN
Ralph Ellis and Steve Almasy, CNN
Juliet Perry, Tim Hume and Livia Borghese, CNN
Barbie Latza Nadeau, Livia Borghese and Joshua Berlinger, CNN