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OFFBEAT

Bardot’s elephants set to receive royal treatment

They once faced imminent death but have now been offered princely accommodation – two French zoo elephants who had been ordered put down are moving to a ranch belonging to Monaco's ruling Grimaldi family.

Bardot's elephants set to receive royal treatment
Baby and Nepal at the Tête d'Or zoo in Lyon. Photo: Phillipe Desmazes/AFP

Baby, 42, and Nepal, 43, had faced an execution order since last year over a suspected tuberculosis infection deemed a threat to the health of other animals and visitors to the Tete d'Or zoo in the southeastern city of Lyon.

But after a nationwide outcry  spearheaded by animal rights defender and ex-cinema icon Brigitte Bardot  and a string of temporary reprieves, France lifted the threat of execution in February.

Jean-Francois Carenco, prefect of the Rhone region where Lyon is located, told reporters he had met Princess Stephanie of Monaco last month, who had promised him she would take care of the two elephants.

They will move in the next two to three months, he said. "If they leave me with the elephants, I will have to kill them, not by pleasure but because it is my responsibility," he added, believing them to be ill.

Baby and Nepal will move to the Grimaldi family's property Roc Agel in the Alpes Maritimes, the French department that neighbours Italy in the southeast.

Animal rights activists have maintained there is no certainty that they were definitely infected by TB, and new tests have been ordered.

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TOURISM

France’s Asterix park to shut down dolphin show

A major amusement park in northern France said on Monday it would close its dolphin and sea lion aquarium, the day before lawmakers start to debate new animal welfare rules.

France's Asterix park to shut down dolphin show
France has long discussed imposing stricter rules on using wild animals in amusement parks. Illustration photo: AFP

The dolphin shows are a popular attraction at Parc Asterix, which normally has some two million visitors a year, but have long been a target of animal rights activists.

“We've been thinking about this for several years,” the park's managing director Nicolas Kremer told Le Parisien newspaper, saying the site wanted to focus instead on rides and other shows.

He said the dolphins would be transferred to other aquariums in Europe in the next two months, adding: “Reintroduction in a natural environment is not possible for these animals raised in captivity.”

A ban on captive breeding of dolphins and other marine mammals as well as their use in shows is a key part of the draft law, with the debate due to begin on Tuesday.

A previous effort to outlaw the practices by decree in 2017 was thrown out by the Council of State, France's highest administrative court, but animal rights group have kept up pressure for the ban.

“These associations think that captivity is abuse, but I can tell you that we have always ensured the wellbeing of our animals,” Kremer said.

The park, based on the beloved Asterix the Gaul comics, is hoping to reopen for the busy summer season on April 3rd if coronavirus restrictions are lifted by then.

READ ALSO: Disneyland Paris to begin 'phased reopening' in July

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