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Paris city council votes to end park pony rides

The Local France
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Paris city council votes to end park pony rides
Poneys stand in the Buttes-Chaumont Park in Paris in 2017 (Photo by JACQUES DEMARTHON / AFP)

Small children in Paris may soon have to go outside of the city for pony rides, after Paris' city council voted not to renew contracts with pony keepers in 2025, citing animal welfare concerns.

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Pony rides are a popular attraction in many of Paris' large municipal parks, butt he city council has announced that when the city's contracts with pony keepers expire in 2025, they will not be renewed.

Several parks in Paris currently offer pony rides for children, and families can bring their little ones for a short ride for approximately €3.50 on Wednesdays, weekends and school holidays.

READ MORE: 19 of the best child-friendly days out in and around Paris

These parks include Parc Monceau in the 8th arrondissement, Georges-Brassens in the 15th arrondissement, the Champ-de-Mars near the Eiffel Tower in the 7th arrondissement, the Jardin du Ranelagh in the 16th arrondissement, Bois de Boulogne in the 16th arrondissement, Buttes-Chaulont in the 19th arrondissement and Bois de Vincennes in the 12th arrondissement.

There is also the Jardin du Luxembourg, but this will not be part of the city's decision as it falls under the jurisdiction of the French senate, not the municipality.

The debate about the park pony rides has been going on for several years, as animal protection associations see the practice as 'archaic' and harmful to the animals, as they are "transported and exploited in noisy and stressful urban environments", according to animal rights group Paris Animaux Zoopolis (PAZ).

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The ponies come to Paris' parks from Rambouillet in Yvelines and Ris-Orangis in Essonne, and activists, like those in PAZ, feel they spend too much time in horseboxes. 

"Some of them spent six hours a day in transports", co-founder of the group, Amandine Sansivens, told Le Parisien. As a result, the group filed a complaint alleging acts of mistreatment with the city's public prosecutor last April.

The group has also shared photos and videos on social media, alleging near accidents with the animals.

Certain Paris parks have already done away with the pony rides.

However, there is disagreement with the city's decision.  "It's up to Parisians to speak out on the issue of ponies, not a handful of activists", the manager of Animaponey, the main equestrian centre in the city, told Le Parisien.

"When PAZ activists hold their demonstrations, there are at most 12 of them, whereas we walk 250 children accompanied by their parents in just one afternoon", the manager said.

Paris deputy mayor, Christophe Najdovski, told Le Parisien that the goal is to not "deprive the city of ponies" and that starting in September, his office will begin looking into alternative options and more ethical ways to maintain the animals in the city.

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