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'Ratatouille' Effect? Louvre Garden Infested With Rats

Rats are on the rampage in the elegant garden of the Louvre Museum, so bold they romp on the grass in broad daylight, defying death threats from sanitation workers and scaring tourists. The hot weather in Paris has brought many picnicking visitors to the garden, whose garbage is a feast for the rats. And they're getting help from animal lovers who dig up poison and feed them water. Maybe it's the "Ratatouille" effect, with the beloved French rat Remy from Disney's computer animated film helping real-life rats win Parisian hearts.

The Louvre, which owns the garden, has been trying to combat the rat problem for months but clearly hasn't succeeded. In May, sanitation officials and exterminators decided to embark on an all-out offensive: "A decision was made to do a shock operation," said Jean-Claude Ndzana Ekani, a museum employee who was working Tuesday with technicians from an extermination company. Workers, acting methodically, were seen Tuesday pouring poison down the rat holes. It hasn't helped.

Tourists may have to get used to an occasional rat scampering about the garden. "We're doing everything we can. This is a recurring problem in all public gardens," Ndzana Ekani said. Given the size of the Louvre garden "we can't eradicate them."

Image: A rat runs next to a Maillol Statue in The Tuileries gardens of the Louvre Muesum in Paris, France, on July 29
A rat runs next to a Maillol Statue in The Tuileries gardens of the Louvre Muesum in Paris, France, on July 29. Rats have been on the rampage on the grass in broad daylight, defying death threats from sanitation workers.Francois Mori / AP

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- The Associated Press