KLM Royal Dutch Airlines said
Tuesday it had been forced to put
down 440 Chinese ground
squirrels because the animals had failed to meet European
The squirrels, which arrived in Amsterdam from Beijing en
route to Athens, lacked the proper import and health
papers, the airline said in a statement.
KLM said the Chinese exporter had refused to take the animals
back. The airline said it tried to send the squirrels to a
country outside Europe but it had failed to find a suitable
home, leaving it with no option but to kill them.
has launched an investigation into the incident,
and, in the meantime, has barred all shipments of ground
squirrels from China.