France Just Banned The Use of Wild Animals in Circuses

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Credits: Stephanie Lefebvre/AP

Wild animals will no longer be allowed in circuses in France, owing to a bill voted by the French Parliament. Some activists appreciate the measure as a welcoming step in animal rights protection, while others believe it falls well short.

According to the plan, acts involving lions, bears, or tigers would be prohibited in two years. Keeping such animals will be banned in seven years. President Emmanuel Macron must sign the bill before it can become law.

Mink farming and live dolphin performances will also be prohibited under the legislation. According to Agence France-Presse, the legislation will put the country’s last mink-fur producer out of business.

Macron’s centrist party, Republic on the Move, hailed the rule as “a historic milestone in the fight for animal rights.” However, some animal rights activists believe it won’t fix the problem (the bill does not mention bullfighting or hunting).

Circus owners slammed it. One of France’s most famous animal campaigners, actress Brigitte Bardot, called the bill “a major advance for the animal rights cause in France.”

The measure imposes stricter limitations on the sale of domestic animals, as well as heavier penalties for animal abuse, including a five-year prison sentence and an $85,000 fine.

Legislator Loc Dombreval, who is also a veterinarian and was a co-sponsor of the bill on behalf of Macron’s party, expressed his delight that the legislation had been passed.

Several incidents like the death of a performing bear named Mischa in 2019 and the killing of a tiger that had escaped from its circus enclosure and was roaming the streets of Paris in 2017 provided additional pressure for the prohibition.

Around 20 other African countries have either outlawed or imposed stricter limitations on the use of animals for entertainment.