France will phase out the use of wild animals in travelling circuses and dolphins and orcas in marine park shows as part of a series of new measures to protect wild animals, the government said on Wednesday.
Barbara Pompili, France’s environment minister, said it was “time that our ancestral fascination with these animals no longer translates into situations where we favour their captivity over their well-being”. She called it a “new era in our relationship with these animals.”
Effective immediately, travelling circuses will also no longer be able to get new authorisations to detain wild animals. The country will also phase out all mink farms by 2025.
She said the progressive phasing out of these practices would change some people’s lives and that the government would set aside €8 million to help circuses and marine parks. Animal rights organisation Peta France welcomed the government decision, calling it a “historic victory”.
Changes for dolphins and orcas in captivity
Effective 2022, orcas will no longer be allowed in captivity for shows and effective in 2027, dolphins will no longer be allowed in shows, Pompili announced. There are four orcas in captivity in France which is why the phasing out is faster than for dolphins. Pompili said that there were three dolphinariums in France.
The government will also outlaw immediately any new efforts to put these animals in captivity for shows or to breed the animals in captivity.
She said that studies showed that the animals had an emotional intelligence and awareness of what was around them as well as a need for social links.
Antibes’ Marineland director Pascal Picot, the only marine park in France with orcas, told France Bleu that the measure was “unjust”. He said ahead of the announcement that depending on the timeline, he would have to potentially “fire everyone”.