France has just joined the ranks of countries that are banning captive killer whale and dolphin breeding. France gives thanks to progressive Environment Minister; Segolene Royal, who just passed legislation favoring the marine mammals which are part of the nation’s parks that use these animals for entertainment. This legislation also bans the keeping of all porpoises; whales, and dolphins in captivity, except for the bottle-nose dolphins and orcas already being held. Furthermore; the law also prohibits direct contact between the public and these wild animals, including feeding and petting.
Initially; Environment Minister Royal passed legislation regarding this last Wednesday, that included “tight regulations on the reproduction of dolphins,” but then decided to ban all captive breeding of these large marine mammals; due to reports of whales and dolphins being drugged in parks emerging. There was a revision to the law on Saturday that she signed; after choosing a “more radical” approach, in an effort to end the captivity of the animals all together; according to her ministry.
“In plain terms, this means the end of breeding, exchange, and import programmes,” five conservation groups including One Voice and Sea Shepherd said in a joint statement. “Without possible replenishment, this quite simply means the scheduled end of marine circuses on our territory.”
This legislation is being hailed as a “Historic French advance” by animal rights groups; along with campaigners which have been working to what they refer to as “marine circuses”. Not all will benefit from this; and those affected are largely displeased because of what this will mean for their parks, although many are happy with the outcome of the new law.
Head of the Marineland Antibes dolphin show park in southern France; John Kershaw, has told Van-Matin newspaper that the new law was a “bombshell” for his park and others that are similar. He stated there was no warming received in regards to the ministry’s intent to pass this law; and about how the parks will be scrambling in order to make adjustments by the time the deadlines happen.
The park Marineland Antibes has been controversial due to their practices over the years; the latest had resulted in the death of orcas, sharks, turtles, sea lions, and tons of other animals after a storm hit the park and entrenched numerous tanks in mud. During the storm; the park was left without electricity, which is necessary for pumping clean water into the tanks. Activists have said the park didn’t work swiftly enough to repair the damage before the death of all the animals. There have also been countless accusations of the park mistreating their animals; alleged abuse of the “world’s most famous walrus” included. A lawsuit had been brought forward by former animal trainers who claims they were witnesses to the effects that captivity has on the orcas.
There is now only six months left for French Marine parks to end breeding programs and activities involving direct contact with visitors and the animals. They also have three years to expand the size of their tanks; in order to better accommodate the animals.
“We all must remain vigilant and ensure the conditions of the decree are appropriately implemented,” Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist with the Animal Welfare Institute, told The Dodo, “but it is yet another sign of the positive change in society’s perceptions of these species in captivity!”