Animal welfare groups are set to protest after a circus with wild animals including an elephant and tigers arrived in a commune in northern France.
The Cirque d’Europe arrived in Salouël, near Amiens (Somme) at the beginning of August, with authorisation from the council.
Its animals include dromedaries, llamas, tigers, and an elephant, and the animals are visible from the road next to the circus tents and other installations.
Animal welfare associations do not agree with the circus’ use of wild animals and are set to hold a protest this Saturday, August 13, at 16:30, just before a show.
Morgane Janvier, at the 269 Life France association in Hauts-de-France, told France 3: “We want to show that the exploitation of animals in circuses should no longer exist. We want to raise awareness to passers-by who come to see the animals and the people who come to the show.
“Animals are not there to entertain us. I’ve passed by the circus and seen the animals outside, locked up and chained most of the time. It’s unacceptable.”
Another association, Code Animal, tweeted a photo of the circus’ elephant, Samba, who was captured from Africa when she was a baby and has been part of the circus for years. The group alleges that the elephant is badly treated.
It wrote: “Samba, African elephant, always alone, exploited by the circus to go on tours against nature. When will she be able to spend the end of her life resting at an animal refuge?”
Samba, éléphante d'Afrique, toujours seule, exploitée dans le cirque d'Europe pour faire des tours contre-nature. A quand une fin de vie, au repos dans une structure d'accueil ?— Code Animal (@code_animal) August 4, 2022
@darragon_franck avez-vous autorisé ce cirque sur votre commune ?#CirqueSansAnimaux pic.twitter.com/gfNU6ijgBl
The One Voice association has also said that “Samba’s life is appalling”, and it has been fighting for her to be placed in a specialist sanctuary for 20 years. A petition to that effect, addressed to the Ecology Ministry, gathered 10,000 signatures.
It called for her freedom, denounced the conditions under which she is kept and the performances demanded of her by her owners.
It is not yet illegal for circuses to keep wild animals, but the subject has been contentious in France for years. In 2021, a law was introduced that will gradually phase out the use of wild animals in all circuses by 2028.
Mayors can also decide to ban circuses with wild animals from arriving in their commune.
In Salouël, the Mairie said that the question was put to a vote, and the town council was in favour of letting the circus arrive.
Deputy mayor Philippe Jacoillot said: “Opponents sent us a letter to express their anger. We are in a democracy, and everyone has the right to express themselves. But the regulations authorise the presence of animals in circuses for another six years.
“Since the council was in favour, we are upholding its decision [for this year].”.
The circus is hoping to return to the commune next year, but the idea will be put to another council vote.
“I can't say that opinion will be favourable again next year,” said Mr Jacoillot. “But we will follow the council's decision."