France to ban animals in circuses ‘our attitude to wild animals has changed’

Starving lion Jon rescued from circus in France, photo: still Reuters
Starving lion Jon rescued from circus in France, photo: still Reuters

France said Tuesday it planned to gradually ban the use of wild animals in traveling circuses, mink farms and the breeding of dolphins and orcas in captivity.

Environment minister Barbara Pompili announced the measures saying “our attitude to wild animals has changed”.

The country’s three dolphinariums will no longer be able to breed or bring in new dolphins or killer whales. “It is time that our ancestral fascination with these wild animals no longer means they end up in captivity,” Pompili added.

However, the minister was vague on when the shutters would come down on mink farms and the use of wild animals for entertainment, saying only that it would be in “the years to come”.

“Putting a date on it does not solve all the problems,” she said. “I prefer to start a process so that we get there as quickly as possible.”

The measures are sure to be resisted by the French fur industry, which has already fought against luxury fashion houses going fur-free.

French circuses use around 500 wild animals (lions, elephants and even hippos) at the moment. Pompili said the government was going to offer circuses and dolphinariums an aid package of up to eight million euros ($9.3 million) to help them adapt 
to the bans.

More than 20 European countries have either banned or heavily restricted the use of animals for entertainment. Germany, France and Italy don’t have any restrictions on the use of wild animals. Today, France announced to change that.

It is unclear what the measures will mean for theme parks that have birds of prey shows.

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