Photo credits: ©Pablo Heimplatz
Following the consultation launched on 24 April by the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition of France, a coalition of French animal welfare NGOs presented to Minister François de Rugy their proposals to improve the welfare of wild animals kept in captivity in France.
The coalition working group – among which are our members C’est Assez, the Confédération Nationale Défense de l’Animal, Fondation Brigitte Bardot, L214 and La Fondation Droit Animal, Ethique et Sciences – is focussing on wild animals in circuses, cetaceans in dolphinaria, minks in fur farming, and zoos. As evidence shows, it’s impossible to satisfy the physiological and behavioral needs of wild animals in captivity, so the French NGOs are calling for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses and dolphinaria, as well as a ban on the use of minks in fur farming.
All French animal protection NGOs agree that bigger cages or more enrichment won’t improve the lives of wild animals kept in captivity in dolphinaria, fur farms or circuses. No additional standards will make these practices acceptable. Improving the welfare of wild animals kept in captivity requires ambitious measures and strong commitments that take into account each species’ needs and interests, the reality of the situation, the existing alternatives and the expectations of civil society. The economic argument, taken into account by the organizations that are proposing transition measures, should in no way be a brake on the necessary progress towards a society that takes better care of animals.
Bien-être animal : 2 mois après le lancement des groupes de travail, les associations et professionnels du zoo, cirque, delphinarium et fourrure m’ont remis leurs propositions. Si beaucoup divergent, je salue leur qualité. Rdv en septembre pour l’annonce d’une série de mesures. pic.twitter.com/KFlnUNJCIk
— François de Rugy (@FdeRugy) July 3, 2019
Animal protection organizations do not base their arguments on a philosophical vision of animal welfare, but on scientific data, which demonstrates the psychological and physical suffering of wild animals kept in captivity. Their requests take into account many years of experience on the ground, the shortcomings in the application of the current legislation, growing societal and political expectations, and the negative pedagogical impact of shows involving wild animals. In addition, such requests are supported by a growing number of French and elected officials, showing that the animal cause has become an ethical and political issue.
When launching the consultation in April, the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition of France, François de Rugy, declared that “to defend the animal cause is to serve human progress. (…) We can no longer claim humanism today without fully taking into account animal welfare”. It’s high time for France to embrace such progress and act for a fairer, more respectful and responsible society. Therefore the French NGOs are calling on the government to do what’s needed to act concretely, beyond incantatory discourses on the importance of taking animal welfare into account. “It’s not because things have long existed that they must be immutable,” declared de Rugy on 3 July. Now French organizations are waiting for concrete and strong actions.