France to ban wild animals in circuses 'within the next few years'

France to ban wild animals in circuses 'within the next few years'
Credit: Wikipedia/ Circo di Praga

The presentation of wild animals in travelling circuses will be gradually banned in France, as well as the reproduction and introduction of new killer whales and dolphins in the country's three dolphinariums, the Minister of Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili announced on Tuesday.

The minister, who presented a series of measures on the "welfare of captive wildlife," also announced the end of the breeding of American mink for their fur, noting that "our era has changed in its attitude to wild animals".

"It is time that our ancestral fascination with these wild beings no longer translates into situations where their captivity is favoured over their welfare," the minister said at a press conference.

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In concrete terms, the end of wild animals in travelling circuses will come "within the next few years", the minister said, without giving a specific deadline. "Setting a date does not solve all the problems, I prefer to put in place a process to make it happen as soon as possible".

As regards the future of these animals - there are, for example, some 500 wild animals in French circuses depending on the profession - "solutions will be found on a case-by-case basis, with each circus, for each animal", said the minister, stressing that these animals will obviously not be "released".

The measures will only apply to animals in "travelling" circuses, and therefore not to other shows featuring wild animals, the minister stressed.

The government is going to release a budget of €8 million "for the retraining of circuses and dolphinarium staff".

"We are asking them (the circuses) to reinvent themselves, this is going to be a period when they will need support, and the State is going to be at their side", she assured.

More than 20 European countries have already limited or banned the presentation of animals, as have some "400 local authorities" in France, according to the minister.

France also has four mink farms and three dolphinariums.

No new dolphinariums will be created, the minister said. The plan instead is the creation of a "sanctuary" to eventually house dolphins and four killer whales in captivity in the three existing ones. She added that there would be a period of "7 to 10 years to prepare for the future" for these species.

The Brussels Times

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