On 18 November 2021, the French parliament voted for a new animal protection law that will ban many activities that exploit animals. When enacted, the new regulations will ban the use of wild animals in live circus shows, television shows, nightclubs and private parties, and it will outlaw mink farming.

The ban of wild animals’ performances will start in two years’ time and owning wild animals such as big cats and bears will be banned in seven years. Dolphin shows in public aquaria will also be banned. There are 120 circus owners in France, who will have to stop using wild animals if they want to remain operational (and they are likely to appeal the new regulations). Therefore, France now joins 20 European countries that have either banned or heavily restricted the use of animals for entertainment.

France only has one mink farm running for the fur industry, but this one will have to close now. This was an expected move after many EU countries have already banned mink farming — partly because of the threat of spreading COVID19.

Apart from bans, the new regulations also strengthen existing animal protection laws. They raise the maximum penalty for mistreating animals to up to five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($85,000), and they tighten restrictions on the sale of pets.

But not all the issues animal rights campaigners wanted to be included in the new law made it in the end — such as a ban on bullfighting and foie gras production. Loic 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.”Although everyone knows France is the main producer of cruel food made by force-feeding ducks and geese until their livers expand and get diseased, many people don’t know that bullfighting is common in the south of France. It is legal in the Camargue and Landes regions when there has been historical tradition. Despite national and international opposition, this cruel activity has survived due to local support (and help from the French courts). However, this year the industry received a blow when several French companies that used to sponsor them decided to distance themselves from bullfighting.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.