French animal-rights activists are claiming a major victory.

The French government has said it will introduce a ban on the breeding of animals for their fur, as well as on wild zoo animals and marine mammals in captivity.

The announcement, made last week after to months of intense media criticism over shocking footage of animal cruelty, was made by France’s Minister of Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili. She called the policy move “a new era in our relationship with these animals.”

 

Without providing details, the minister said animals will be progressively banned from traveling circuses. Plus, it’s no longer legal to breed minks for their fur in France. Pompili added breeding and keeping killer whales and dolphins in the country’s oceanariums will also be forbidden.

“Big cats, elephants, killer whales, dolphins or even mink, it is time to open a new era in our relationship with these animals. Today, I present measures to improve the welfare of captive wildlife,” the minister said on Twitter.

However, Pompili did not say specifically when the ban will begin.

“Setting a date does not solve all problems. I prefer to put in place a process so that this happens as fast as possible. Solutions would be found case by case, with every circus, for every animal,” she said.

Foundation Brigitte Bardot, the NGO founded and spearheaded by the legendary French actress, responded on Twitter with a concise message: “Simply… THANKS @barbarapompili! You can count on the support of our Foundation to organize the housing of wild animals currently being held and exploited in undignified conditions…”

Inouk the killer whale swims in his enclosure. (One Voice/Newsflash)

Other animal-rights organizations welcomed the move, but said it did not go far enough.

“This is a first, real and very important step, even if it only concerns four farms and is long overdue. France is well behind other countries, in particular, the major fur-producing countries,” said Brigitte Gothiere, co-founder of L214, which has been involved in documenting the poor living conditions for French mink.

“However, it should not mask the necessary and expected progress in intensive breeding, which concerns more than a billion animals. Discussions which will take place from this Thursday [Oct. 1} in Parliament will make it possible to see if there is a real will to progress significantly on these subjects,” she said.

“Five years to close four mink farms, two of which are being sued? It was high time!” according to One Voice, another animal-rights group.

“When you think that Poland, the second-largest fur supplier in the world, is going to shut them down and that the Netherlands is closing their 160 mink farms in March, when they had planned three years ago to do so, France is taking its time,” One Voice said.

One Voice also voiced concern that no date had been set to end wild animals being used in circuses.

Inouk the killer whale swims in his enclosure. (One Voice/Newsflash)

“More than 23 countries in Europe have already legislated with clarity…” said Muriel Arnal, president of One Voice. “We expected from France a roar for all these suffering animals, instead she [the minister] timidly meowed…”

Speaking about the captive marine wildlife in France, Arnal said the animals can be expected to “come out of chlorinated basins at best in seven years. We welcome the immediate cessation of breeding and the ban on the acquisition of new captive cetaceans, in accordance with our requests. The minister is considering the creation of a sanctuary, we are offering our expertise … Yesterday, two belugas found semi-freedom, it is possible, and so desirable!”

When it comes to the protection of farmed animals and wild animals in captivity, France is one of Europe’s slowest-acting countries. At least 20 other countries in the EU have tougher legislation. Many banned fur farming and wild circus animals years ago.

(Edited by Fern Siegel and Matthew Hall)



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