French police investigating a report of a body being dumped in a river were surprised and relieved to discover the corpse belonged to a giant catfish and not a murder victim.
They were called to the small town of Unieux, in the Loire Valley near Saint-Étienne after a concerned member of the public spotted a 'body' wrapped in a sheet being dumped in the river.
Police had been seeking information on the whereabouts of a 39-year-old woman who had gone missing in the area a week earlier, and the clandestine corpse disposal had made them fear the worst, and rush to the scene.
However when officers arrived and removed the shroud they found the beached body was not that of the missing woman, but was instead the carcass of a 2.2m/7ft Wels catfish, Silurus glanis.
The bemused Gendarmes are not sure of the motives behind the dumping of the cast-off catfish, but speculate it may have been a ill-judged and unsuccessful attempt at releasing the super-sized Siluriid into France's longest river.
The identity of the catfish kidnap culprits, or where the unfortunate fish came from in the first place remain a mystery.
The Wels is Europe's largest fish species, growing in exceptional cases to around 3m/9.8' and weighing over 150kg/330lb. They are tough, highly adaptable, tolerant of a wide range of water conditions and happy to eat almost anything they can fit into their massive mouths.
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