France Bans Big Cats, Orcas from Circuses and Marine Parks

Image: Pixaby

by Amy Lupica, ODP Contributing Writer

In a news conference on Tuesday, France’s Minister of Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, announced the country will be banning the use of wild animals like lions, and tigers, and bears in circuses. The ban will also prohibit the import and breeding of dolphins and orcas in marine parks, as well as ending the raising of minks for fur farming. The policy on marine mammals will be instituted immediately but the remaining policies will be implemented over the next several years. Along with the ban, the French government will also include an 8 million Euro (USD 9.2 million) package to assist circus and marine park workers in finding new jobs. 

Why This Matters: Estimates show that there are just 3,900 tigers left in the wild compared to 7,000 captive in the United States and 1,600 captive in Europe. These animals are exploited for human entertainment, and, in Europe, are often part of traveling circuses or private “sanctuaries.” Oftentimes, these animals age out of entertainment and are killed and their parts sold for “traditional medicines” across the globe. 

By The Numbers: According to data from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, there are currently 60 orcas held in captivity globally, 29 of which were captured in the wild.

In addition to the danger presented to captive animals and wild animal populations, there is also increasing concern about human safety. According to the Humane Society, in the US alone, there have been more than 300 incidents involving big cats since 1990. Of the 306 incidents, 20 people and 125 cats were killed. Scientists have found that this aggressive behavior is a direct result of captivity.

Scientists observed similarly increased levels of stress in captive orcas. Bio-psychologist Lori Marino conducted a study that found that orcas, due to their high level of intelligence, are more likely to suffer extreme negative effects in captivity. Orcas in captivity rarely live past 30, but in the wild can live upwards of 50 years. Marino’s study also found that captive environments can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, hearing loss, and organ degradation in orcas. “This is not mysterious or even controversial. It is basic science,” she said.

Activists and experts agree that France’s new policy is a big win for animal rights, calling it a “historic French advance.” However, the ban will not apply to shows and zoos. Pompili emphasized that the ban will allow time for businesses and employees to transition, “that transition will be spread over several years, because it will change the lives of many people.”


Up Next

Record-breaking Year for Manatee Deaths

Record-breaking Year for Manatee Deaths

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Almost 1,000 of Florida’s manatees have died as of Oct.1 this year, setting a tragic record for the most deaths in a year, with two months left to go. Deaths were largely caused by starvation — the predator-less sea cows typically spend hours a day eating seagrass, but declining […]

Continue Reading 357 words
One Cool Thing: Where’s Walrus?

One Cool Thing: Where’s Walrus?

Do you have a good eye? Are you surprisingly good at Where’s Waldo and like Walruses? If so, we have great opportunity for you! The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is seeking volunteers to help count Atlantic walruses…from space.   Sea ice is retreating fast as global temperatures rise, forcing walruses to crowd on smaller floes […]

Continue Reading 174 words
China Pledges $230 Million to Protect Biodiversity

China Pledges $230 Million to Protect Biodiversity

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer At a UN conference in Kunming, China, President Xi Jinping set aside $230 million to form a fund that preserves biodiversity in developing countries. This announcement was made at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity talks (COP15) which are dedicated to preserving delicate ecosystems and preventing plants and animals […]

Continue Reading 315 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.