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ANIMALS

Bardot’s elephants settle into new royal home

Two sick elephants who were given an 11th-hour stay of execution after a Brigitte Bardot lead public campaign to save them, arrived at their plush new home on Friday where they will be treated like royalty under the watch of the Princess of Monaco.

Bardot's elephants settle into new royal home
Baby and Nepal at the Tête d'Or zoo in Lyon. Photo: Phillipe Desmazes/AFP

It's been a quite a turnaround in the lives of two elephants from a zoo in Lyon.

Just months ago they were condemned to death over suspected tuberculosis. They were then given a last minute reprieve and on Friday they arrived at their new home  –  a ranch belonging to Monaco's royal family.

Princess Stephanie of Monaco looked on as Baby and Nepal, who had been ordered killed over suspected tuberculosis, were loaded into containers and lifted onto a truck for the eight-hour journey to the principality.

The princess has agreed to host the two elephants, aged 42 and 43, at the royal family's Roc Agel ranch in the Alpes-Maritimes region in the southeastern corner of France.

"Everything went really well," zoo director Xavier Vaillant told AFP after the elephants' departure.

"They will live in a place where there will be no risk to the public," he said, adding that the animals will soon be retested.

The elephants were to be put down in December, when municipal officials in Lyon decided they had almost certainly been infected with TB and warned they could be a threat to the health of other animals and visitors to the Tete d'Or zoo in the city.

Authorities later lifted the threat of execution after an outcry that saw film-star-turned-animal-rights campaigner Brigitte Bardot threaten to quit the country for Russia if they were killed.

More than 11,000 people signed a petition urging that the elephants not be killed and their former owner, the Pinder circus, called for the president to issue a stay of execution.

Sources in the royal family said the elephants would live in a 3,500 square metre (38,000 square foot) enclosure "with a huge wooden shelter and a pool from them to drink from and cool off in."

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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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