Serge famous after Bordeaux night out

The Guardian, PARIS

Wed, Nov 06, 2013 - Page 7

To be fair, it was not Serge’s idea to go out on a school night and paint the town beige. And unlike the five lads who decided to “liberate” the circus llama to show him a good time, Serge had not been drinking anything stronger than water.

The hairy reveler is famous after pictures of him riding a night tram in the French wine capital Bordeaux emerged on the Internet.

The escapade happened in the early hours of Thursday last week as the youths passed the circus after leaving a city nightclub.

“We went in and played with the animals,” one of the revelers, named only as Matthieu, told BFM television. “We ended up taking the llama with us.”

The youths also allegedly took a stuffed lion toy and a trombone.

Matthieu said the llama seemed happy to follow the group — “like a dog on a leash” — and had no problem taking the night tram.

“He hopped on without a problem. We followed suit and took a ride with him. There were other passengers,” Matthieu said.

However, the animal fell foul of a ticket inspector alerted by the tram driver.

“[Serge] moved along the tram and we couldn’t hold on to him. The inspector made him get off and tied him to a lamppost,” Matthieu said.

The llamanappers fled, and were picked up later by police.

Pictures of the llama waiting at the tram stop and traveling inside the tram car quickly spread and sparked a flood of online spoofs, including one showing him meeting French President Francois Hollande.

John Beautour, the director of the Cirque Franco-Italian, initially failed to see the funny side of the incident, saying it “could have ended very badly” and threatened legal action against the youths. However, he later withdrew his police complaint after dozens of Serge “fans” flocked to the circus to take a picture of him.

“It’s amazing. The incident became a huge media event. They’re talking about it from Australia to Poland,” Beautour told the free newspaper 20 Minutes.

A Facebook group, “Support the Bordeaux Five who took ‘Serge’ the lama [sic] for a tramway ride,” had 732,000 likes by Monday.