France Bans the Use of Wild Animals in Circuses



France takes significant steps to protect wild animals with a sweeping law that prohibits performances with wild animals like lions and bears.

In mid-November, the French Parliament passed a comprehensive animal protection law banning performances with wild animals like lions and bears and the private possession of these animals. Additionally, the law bans live dolphin shows and mink farming. France’s message is clear — wild animals don’t belong in circuses or human homes, dolphins do not exist for our entertainment, and fur is not fashion.

The law was inspired, in part, by the death of Mischa, a bear forced to perform for years across France, just two months after he was rescued and moved to a sanctuary. When he arrived at the sanctuary, Mischa was extremely ill, suffering from an infestation of maggots and multiple tumors. France’s Environment Minister prohibited Mischa from being used in public performances after animal protection group One Voice released footage of his poor condition.

Movement in the US to Ban Wild Animals in Performances

The movement to end the use of wild animals in live performances is also gaining momentum in the US. Last week, Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), David Schweikert (AZ-06), and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) reintroduced the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act in Congress. The bill would amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit traveling circuses and acts from using wild animals.

Additionally, multiple states have banned or restricted the use of wild animals in traveling acts. California bans the use of almost all animals (except for dogs, cats, and domesticated horses) in circuses, while Hawaii, New Jersey, and Colorado ban the use of wild animals or certain wild animal species in both circuses and traveling acts. New York and Illinois prohibit the use of elephants in traveling acts. Finally, Rhode Island has a bullhook ban, which functions as a de facto ban on the use of elephants in performances because “trainers” rely on these cruel implements to control them. Every year, multiple state legislatures consider bans on the use of wild animals in circuses. If you live in Massachusetts, please take a moment to urge your legislators to support an important bill currently being considered in your state.

Though circuses that exploit animals have been on the decline over the last decade, multiple circuses and traveling acts with animals still tour across the US or regionally. The federal law regulating circuses that use wild animals — the Animal Welfare Act — provides only minimal protections and is chronically underenforced. Legislation is critically needed to protect wild animals from being exploited.

Act Now to Prevent Wildlife Exploitation

Urge your federal legislators to support these other important bills:

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