France has announced that it will "gradually" ban wild animals in traveling circuses. The country's ecological transition minister Barbara Pompili made the announcement Tuesday as part of an array of measures focused on animal welfare.
"It is time to open a new era in our relationship with these [wild] animals," Pompili said at a press conference, BBC News reported. "It is time that our ancestral fascination with these wild beings no longer means they end up in captivity."
Wild species such as bears, lions, tigers would no longer be allowed in traveling circuses under the ban, she said. The ban would not apply to zoos or other permanent attractions or shows. While no timetable was set for the ban to take effect, Pompili said it would happen in the "years to come."
"Some species are not made for a life of roaming," Pompili later tweeted in French. "We will therefore progress gradually towards the end of animals from wild species in traveling circuses."
Citing recent studies that show how aware orcas and dolphins are of their captivity, Pompili announced France's dolphinariums will be banned from keeping orcas used in shows within two years. Under the same ban, the marine parks have seven years to stop the use of dolphins.
The ban also immediately stops the building of new marine parks and breeding or bringing in new dolphins or orcas.
Pompili also announced a commitment to end mink farming.
"We can no longer keep wild animals for the sole purpose of slaughtering them to be worn in clothing," she tweeted.
According to the BBC, Pompili said the government is offering a $9.3 million package to help circuses and marine parks adapt to the new measures and will consider creating a sanctuary for animals in captivity now.
"Much more than a threat or a prey, the wild animal is now, above all — and this is my deep conviction — a being to be preserved, and to be respected in its integrity, she said.
Animal rights groups such as PETA supported the measures.
"Champagne corks are blowing up at PETA — thank you to everyone who made this win!" PETA France tweeted.