It seems that caging dolphins and killer whales, displaying bears, lions, tigers and elephants for circus performances, and farming mink for fur, will be a thing of the past!
The French Ministry of Environment has declared a measured prohibition to these harmful activities, therefore keeping animal welfare as an utmost priority. Barbara Pompili, Minister of Ecological Transition, emphasizes that travelling circuses and marine parks need a smooth passage in leaving these spectacles behind. The ban will take several years to be fully implemented because, according to Ms. Pompili, each animal will need a different type of care. Furthermore, this ban will alter the lives of many employees working in circuses and other related wild animal shows, which is why an 8-million Euro package will be implemented to encourage them to find other jobs.
In her announcement, Ms. Pompili said that a smooth transition is necessary: “Our attitude to wild animals has changed. It is time to open a new era in our relationship with them. We are asking circuses to reinvent themselves. That transition will be spread over several years because it will change the lives of many people.”
This decision was met with a division of opinions. On one side of the coin, animals rights groups applauded the states’ willingness to drive it forth, with PETA writing on their Twitter (In French): “Champagne bottles are being uncorked! Thank you to all those who have helped bring this victory to light.”
On the other hand, Circus owners and employees, whose lives will be most impacted by the announcement, are frustrated that they are not being listened to, and are concerned about the aftermath of the whole ordeal. William Kerwich, the director of the Circus Trainer’s Union and owner of his own entertainment unit (Cirque ROYAL Kerwich), told a news outlet that [Ms. Pomplili] did not take everything into account: “She didn’t want to listen to us. Who is going to pay for the meat for the lions and tigers and the food for the elephants? Circuses will have to abandon their animals and the minister will be responsible.”
Certainly, a decision of this calibre needs not be taken lightly, because there are many lives at stake. Those of circus and marine park employees and owners, who will have to fend for financial alternatives to keep their businesses running and their jobs relevant, or to find other means of employment altogether, with the current qualifications they have. Most importantly, the lives of the wild animals, who have (likely) been domesticated and cannot easily be reintroduced into the wild.
For this very reason, the ban will need several years to take a full-on effect. It needs to be done thoroughly, and with a comprehensive plan. Wild animals do not belong in cages and do not exist for our entertainment. Moreover, they are not to be mistreated, abused or kept in disastrous conditions. Yet, the voices of everyone that has a stake in the wild animal entertainment industry still need to be heard.