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ANIMALS

Marine parks celebrate as France overturns ban on captive dolphin breeding

France's highest administrative court on Monday overturned a ban on the breeding of dolphins in captivity, a victory for marine parks which had argued the move could put them out of business.

Marine parks celebrate as France overturns ban on captive dolphin breeding
AFP

The previous Socialist government ordered the ban, which also applied to killer whales, last May after complaints from animal rights groups hoping to end marine and aquarium shows.

But former environment minister Segolene Royale had tightened the ban at the last minute, and failed to consult the public and others on a measure that could have forced aquariums to close.

Aquariums and parks such as Marineland in southern France — the biggest attraction of its kind in Europe — have faced growing criticism in recent years over their animals' living conditions.

“This is excellent news for our animals and animal parks in France,” said Pascal Picot, managing director at Marineland, which appealed the decision along with the Parc Asterix amusement park north of Paris and the Wild Planet park in Western France.

The new rules would have banned the captivity of all whales, dolphins and porpoises, except for orcas and bottlenose dolphins already held in authorised
aquariums — which would eventually have meant them being phased out altogether.

Marine parks also would have had to increase the size of their pools by at least 150 percent.

Animal rights groups had hailed the measures as a first step toward ending breeding and import programmes for animal shows in France.

But Picot said “significant changes to the rules governing the treatment of our animals should be based on scientific facts, and be carried out as required by law.”

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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