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Finding gifts for heads of state is not easy. Malians can bear witness
For French President Francois Hollande, intervention in Mali brought two rewards: domestic popularity and a pet camel. The camel was reportedly a gift from a grateful local official in Mali for the French troops' role in driving back Islamist militants, and Hollande joked that he would use it to navigate Paris's congested streets. Alas, the camel didn't take to Hollande and the vaccinations and shipping complexities were perhaps deemed too tedious for a badly behaved animal that screeched so loudly when Hollande first tried to pet it, it drowned out the Malian official's speech. Thus Hollande bequeathed the quadruped to a family in Timbuktu. But one man's pet is another's delicious stew, and the caretakers apparently wasted no time in eating it.
Embarrassed Malian officials have promised to replace the camel with a bigger and "better-looking" version. Perhaps that one will be shipped to a French zoo, where it can befriend the two Bengal tigers that were once gifted to Georges Pompidou, as well as Francois Mitterrand's Asian elephant, and the bison given to Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.
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