Paris’ iconic Moulin Rouge cabaret has agreed to end its controversial snake act, in which non-aquatic snakes were submerged in water for a stage show.
The routine was heavily criticized by the animal rights organization Paris Animaux Zoopolis (PAZ), which said it was cruel and the species used in the act, reticulated pythons and Indian pythons, aren’t aquatic snakes.
In response to the criticism, Moulin Rouge announced it would stop the act and added that respect for animals had “always been essential” to its operation. It did not provide a timeline for the end of the snake show and said it would give “reasonable notice” to performers.
The move came after a heated campaign by animal rights activists, who organized petitions and demonstrations in front of the Moulin Rouge venue to end the snake act.
Amandine Sanvisens, co-founder of PAZ, had previously said that “the snakes have no business being there. This isn’t the right environment for reptiles”.
The Paris mayor’s office also sent a letter to the venue, stating that the show was cruel to the snakes and that the act on stage did not consider their natural behaviour.
Last year, Moulin Rouge had claimed it used “a species of aquatic python, equally at home in the water as on land” for the show, but Alice Georges, a keeper at exotic pet shop Ferme Tropicale de Paris, contradicted the claim and identified reticulated and Indian pythons in videos of the act posted online.
Indian pythons and reticulated pythons are both large snakes native to Southeast Asia. Both species are non-venomous and rely on their strength to subdue prey.
They are important predators in their respective ecosystems, but their populations are threatened by habitat loss, hunting for their skin and the pet trade.