Spain’s new animal rights law targets zoos, pet shops and animal abusers

Wooden sign with zoo written in white with blue sky, animal news
Sign above entrance of zoo, photo: Filo via Canva

Spain’s first animal rights law plans to ban the sale of pets in shops, turn zoos into wildlife centers, forbid wild animals in circuses, and give prison sentences to animal abusers, the government said on Friday.

“Today, we begin to end the impunity of animal abusers in our country with the first animal rights law of our democracy,” Ione Belarra, Minister of Social Rights, said on Twitter.

She added that the new animal rights law makes Spain a better country, because “the value of a society is also measured by how it cares for its animals”.

Animals are protected from abuse, abandonment and sacrifice, she said. With animals, Belarra means pets and zoo animals; farm animals and animals killed during bullfights are not part of Spain’s first animal rights law.

Under the proposed legislation, animal abusers can face up to 24 months in jail. Shops will no longer be able to sell pets; only approved breeders can sell animals.

Zoos and dolphinariums will be converted into centers for the recovery of native species. “(That way) children can learn about our local wildlife while growing up with the values of animal protection,” Belarra said.

As a first step, zoos will be banned from buying or breeding non-native species. When their existing exotic animals die, they should be replaced with native species.

The new law does not include bullfighting. “We believed that, unfortunately, this country needs a wider debate (on bullfighting), and this law was urgent and necessary for all these pets, and wild animals in captivity,” government animal rights head Sergio Torres told Reuters.

“This does not mean that we will not do it in the future,” Torres added.

The draft law still has to go through a public hearing, another reading in the cabinet and then a parliamentary vote before it’s official.

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