The practice is already illegal in 19 other European countries, highlighting France’s somewhat slow response to this issue. But following the recent circus tiger escapade, authorities have been left with no choice but to take action.
The 200 kilogram wild cat had escaped from the Bormann-Moreno circus, wandering freely around the 15th arrondissement near the office of France Televisions, before being shot dead by its owner.
‘What happened on Friday could have resulted in far more serious consequences,’ Christophe Marie, spokesperson for the Brigitte Bardot Foundation told The Local. ‘These animals aren’t getting what they need. They’re depressed because they are trapped in tight spaces and forced to do the same movements every day.’
‘We are already seeing a change in society – people are starting to question the relationship between humans and animals. France must respond in the same way as other countries and ban animals from circuses altogether.’
The campaign to ban wild animals in circuses gained strength through political backing. A particular spokesperson on the scene has been Jacques Boutault, Green Party Mayor for the Second district of Paris. ‘Wild animals in circuses are abused, they are exploited for entertainment purposes and Parisians don’t want this to happen anymore,’ he told the Paris Match.
Other political game-changers have weighed in too, including Yann Wehrling, spokesman and general secretary of the Mouvement Democratique (France’s Democratic Party). ‘We can’t just talk about biodiversity and then find normal that endangered species are being taught to play the clown for our so-called entertainment and are being kept in cramped cages.’
It’s even harder to disagree when renowned French ecologists, like Jacques Boutault, express their concerns. ‘Wild animals in circuses are not well treated. They are exploited for fun and this is hitting home to more and more Parisians,’ said Boutault, as reported in France24.
Since national lawmakers must vote through any eventual ban, he described this decision as ‘a small step forward even if it does not go far enough,’ in the hope of a widespread change.