France’s Parc Astérix stops dolphin shows, but the animals won’t be free

Dolphin Femke in Parc Asterix, photo: One Voice
Dolphin Femke in Parc Asterix, photo: One Voice

The amusement park Parc Astérix in France said on Monday it would close its dolphin and sea lion aquarium. The news comes a day before lawmakers start to debate new animal welfare rules in France.

“The Parc Astérix’s decision is good news for all the calves who will not be born there in the future. Aïcko and Galéo (born in the park) were separated from their mother and sold to Planète Sauvage with the dire consequences (Aïcko died at the age of 6),” Muriel Arnal from the French animal welfare organization One Voice told The Animal Reader

Femke is one of the dolphins at Parc Astérix. “Ekinox was torn from his mother Femke who never recovered from the pain of seeing her young son go. Knowing this won’t happen again is a relief,” Arnal said.

But the animals won’t go to a sanctuary, but to other aquariums in Europe, the park’s managing director Nicolas Kremer told Le Parisien newspaper.

According to Kremer, the dolphins won’t survive in a natural environment because they’ve lived in captivity for too long. But Arnal said the park could at least have found them a sanctuary.

“Such a big group could have funded a sanctuary for its dolphins instead of getting rid of them in other tanks. Parc Astérix made profit from the exhibition of these animals for so many years. It owed them that, at least,” she said about the choice of the park to send the animals to other parks.

Tuesday, France will discuss a ban on captive breeding of dolphins and other marine mammals as well as their use in shows.

A previous effort to outlaw the practices by law in 2017 was thrown out by the Council of State, France’s highest administrative court, but animal rights groups have kept up pressure for the ban.

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