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France scraps ban on breeding dolphins in captivity

media Dolphins perform at the Marineland aquatic park in Antibes VALERY HACHE / AFP

A decree banning the breeding of dolphins and killer whales in captivity has been annulled by France's highest legal authority on technical grounds.

As well as banning amusement park owners and zoos from breeding dolphins and killer whales, also known as orcas, in captivity, the decree, signed last year by the previous government's environment minister, Ségolène Royal, ordered an increase in the size of pools and banned the use of chlorine in their water so as to "end animal suffering".

But the original proposal was altered from a "tight control" over dolphin breeding to a total ban after a consultation procedure had ended.

France's Council of State noted that the ban had initially only been proposed for orcas and ruled that "given the threat to the future of aquatic parks" the change should not have been made without further consultation with their owners.

Animal welfare and law

The ruling was "excellent news for our animals and France's zoological parks", Pascal Picot, the head of the Marineland park on the Côte d'Azur, declared in a statement.

Marineland had joined Paris's Parc Astérix and Planète Sauvage in western France in challenging the decree in court.

But animal rights campaigners called it a "historic step backwards" and appealed to the government to issue the decree again after going through the correct procedure.

Royal said it a tweet that she had "lived up to her responsibilities" after being made aware of the "mistreatment" of dolphins, who are "drugged and starved to make them perform, which the spectators don't know".

"Animal welfare should be inscribed in our law to change our jurists' mentalities," she said.

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