France Approves New Laws Targeting Animal Cruelty, Banning Circuses


French actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot welcomed a vote by lawmakers on Thursday to end the animal cruelty practice of wild animals such as tigers, lions or bears being used in live circus shows.

Although the bill skirts the contentious issues of hunting and bullfighting, it provides tougher punishment for cruelty to pets. 

Administrators in the Senate voted a ballot predominantly in favor of the wide-ranging animal rights legislation with 332 for, one against, and 10 abstentions.


This implies performances of wild animals in circuses will be prohibited in two years and owning them outlawed in seven years, an issue that has been under debate since 2020.

The law, once signed by President Emmanuel Macron, will likewise ban live dolphin shows in the following five years and will put an end to mink farming.

Macron’s party called the enactment “a historic step in the animal rights combat”.


Serious step forward 

The foundation of France’s most popular animal advocate, actress and celebrity Brigitte Bardot, welcomed “a major advance for the animal rights cause in France”.


Just as the actions focusing on circuses, the new law will raise the maximum punishment for abusing animals to as long as five years in jail and a fine of €75,000. It will likewise tighten limitations on the sales of pets. 

Showing and selling dogs and little cats from glass cases in animal shops will be restricted from 1 January 2024. 

Larger part of French public wants better treatment for animals, survey says 

“Animals are neither toys nor consumer products,” the French minister for agriculture Juilien Denormandie said.


One in two French people own a pet, but each year some 100,000 animals are abandoned.

Harder punishments 

In order to prevent hasty sales of pets, new owners will need to sign a document acknowledging their responsibilities.


Intentionally killing a pet will be punishable by law, rather than just a fine. Those who have already been convicted of animal cruelty will be added to a list and banned from owning a pet again.

“The treatment of animals is neither a nature-loving city-goers obsession, nor is it a passing phase, but a subject which a growing number of French people are concerned with, and it has become political,” Loïc Dombreval, the LREM co-sponsor of the law said.

“There will inevitably come a day when… we will debate sensitive issues such as hunting, such as bull-fighting, or some animal-rearing practices,” said the lawmaker, who is also a veterinarian.


Cultural practices

Environmentalists had called for measures to work on the conditions inside industrialized animal farms, which will require “a change in our agricultural model”, Senator Daniel Salmon said on Thursday.


Issues, for example, hunting and bull-fighting are particularly touchy in light of the fact that they are resolutely protected by supporters in rural areas as long-standing cultural practices.

Farms that make foie gras pate in France — which requires the force-feeding of birds such as geese and ducks to artificially bloat their livers- have additionally since a long time ago been focused on by campaigners both in the nation and abroad. 

Pamela Anderson (L), actress and animals rights defender, Michel Vandenbosch (2ndL), co-founder of the Belgian animal welfare organisation, Global Action in the Interest of Animals (GAIA), and former Miss France Delphine Wespiser (3rdL) attend a news conference at the National Assembly to protest the force-feeding of geese used in the production of foie gras, in Paris, France, January 19, 2016. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

The 120 circus owners in France are likely to protest against the restrictions placed on their livelihoods and have warned that some animals might end up abandoned.

“It’s an arbitrary law because there are not mistreated animals in our circuses,” William Kerwich, head of the circus animal trainers’ union, told AFP.


He said there would be a reaction from his members on Monday, and a legal appeal.

The new legislation also bans the use of wild animals in television shows, nightclubs, and private parties.

The new law will align France with in excess of 20 European nations that have either prohibited or vigorously restricted the use of animals for entertainment.