A new breed of subterranean elephant has been discovered by a team building an extension to the Paris Metro.
The workers were first alerted to something unusual when they heard a distant, muffled trumpeting noise. Thinking that this was just the distorted sounds of traffic above ground, they were about to stop for lunch when they suddenly met up with the burrowing pachyderms digging in the opposite direction.
Chief Engineer Claude Bêche says that his team were 'mildly alarmed' when the elephants broke through and started trampling all over their equipment, and 'slightly concerned' when the creatures stole all their sandwiches and disappeared back down the tunnel.
Professor Henri Ivoire, a lecturer in Crabs at the University of Bordeaux, is the closest thing to an elephant expert that could be found at short notice. He was extremely surprised to find wild elephants this far north.
"We know that there were elephants in Europe in olden times, but it is believed that these all died out in the early seventies. It's thought that the rapidly changing climate caused their shells to shrivel up and their claws to drop off."
His theory is that a colony of elephants was driven underground as a result of human encroachment on their habitat. He believes that they survived on worms and beetles, and occasionally ventured up top to carry out lightening raids on bun shops. Local reports of extremely large molehills appear to support this theory.
Work on the extension has now been halted while experts evaluate the situation. At first it was hoped that the elephant tunnels could be incorporated into the network, speeding up the work considerably. However, it seems that they are not suitable.
Elephants are industrious tunnellers but they know twat all about civil engineering, which is why many construction companies refuse to employ them. It seems that far from assisting the project, their presence is actually a hindrance and work is currently underway to design giant spring-loaded elephant traps to deal with the menace once and for all.