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France will begin phasing out the use of wild animals in travelling circuses and marine mammals held in captivity in marine parks as a part of its new animal welfare policies. The country has also committed to end mink farms in the next few years, in what has been described as a historic win by conservation groups.
The French government has announced a new series of sweeping measures to protect wild animals, including a “gradual” ban on wild animals in travelling circuses, ending the captivity of aquatic animals in marine parks, and eliminating mink farming. Wild species including tigers, bears and lions will no longer be allowed in circuses under the new laws, though the policy will not apply to zoos and there has yet to be more details on a firm timeline.
Barbara Pompili, the country’s ecological transition minister, told the press that it was “time to open a new era in our relationship with these animals,” as reported by the BBC. “It is time that our ancestral fascination with these wild beings no longer means they end up in captivity.”
Pompili cited scientific evidence on the cruelty of holding orcas and dolphins in captivity, and said that the country’s dolphinariums will now be banned from keeping these marine mammals in entertainment shows within the next two years. Over the next seven years, all French marine parks will have to end the use of dolphins. Under this same law, the building of all new marine parks will effectively be put to an end with immediate effect.
It’s time to open a new era in our relationship with these animals. It is time that our ancestral fascination with these wild beings no longer means they end up in captivity.Barbara Pompili, French Minister of Ecological Transition
Read: How Hong Kong’s Ocean Park fuels the Taiji trade supplying China’s dolphinariums
As of now, there are four orcas kept in captivity in France and three dolphinariums.
Citing recent studies that show how aware orcas and dolphins are of their captivity, Pompili announced France’s dolphinariums will be banned from keeping orcas used in shows within two years. Under the same ban, the marine parks have seven years to stop the use of dolphins.
We can no longer keep wild animals for the sole purpose of slaughtering them to be worn in clothing.Barbara Pompili, French Minister of Ecological Transition
The mink farm ban will see the country phase out all mink farming operations by 2025. Minks are small mammals often exploited in fur production for fashion and apparel as well as in the cosmetics industry, notably for false eyelashes.
“We can no longer keep wild animals for the sole purpose of slaughtering them to be worn in clothing,” the minister tweeted in French.
According to the BBC, the French government will be putting forward €8 million (US$9.3 million) in a package designed to help marine parks, circuses and farms to cope with the new animal welfare policies. The administration is also looking at building a sanctuary for current captive animals.
The slew of new measures has been met with praise from conservationists. Animal rights organisation PETA has supported the laws, celebrating in a tweet that “champagne corks are blowing up” upon news of the win.
Lead image courtesy of Bertrand Guay / AFP.