France bans wild animals in circuses and ends mink farming

Man feeds a hippo standing on grass
William Kerwich, owner of the Royal Circus, feeds Molly the hippopotamus, France, February 9, 2021, photo: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

French lawmakers voted on Thursday to end the use of wild animals in circuses and end mink farming, meaning the country’s last operating mink farm will close.

Performances of tigers, lions, bears, elephants and hippos will be forbidden in two years and owning them outlawed in seven years. The new animal rights law will also ban live dolphin shows in the next five years.

The maximum penalty for mistreating animals will be raised to up to five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($85,000). Restrictions on the sale of pets will also be tightened.

Animal rights and environmental groups had called for measures to improve the conditions inside industrialized animal farms, but those were not part of the new animal rights law.

Cruel practices like force-feeding ducks or geese with a tube down their throat to make traditional French foie gras were not part of the discussions on animal rights.

“There will inevitably come a day when… we will debate sensitive issues such as hunting, such as bull-fighting, or some animal-rearing practices,” said lawmaker Loďc Dombreval, who is also a veterinarian.

Hunting and bull-fighting are especially sensitive in France, because supporters in rural areas firmly defend them as long-standing
cultural practices.

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