Normandy first French region to stop funding wild animal shows

The move is part of a wider trend away from wild animal use

A person holding a peregrine falcon on their thick falconry glove
The stopping of event funding in Normandy is mainly aimed at shows that include bird of prey demonstrations
Published Last updated

The region of Normandy has confirmed that it will no longer finance shows, festivals, or circus performances involving wild animals - making it the first region in France to do so.

Authorities voted unanimously for the change. The ban is aimed particularly at medieval-style festivals and their bird of prey and falconry demonstrations, of which there were six major events in the region in 2023 (Falaise, Pontorson, Cerisy-la-Forêt, Thiétreville, Harcourt, and Rouen).

Animal welfare associations have welcomed the move.

Writing on X (formerly Twitter), the Paris Animaux Zoopolis (PAZ) group thanked the region, and called the decision “historic”. It wrote: “The Normandy Region has become the first region to adopt a resolution not to subsidise events featuring wild animals, including medieval festivals. Bravo!”

La @RegionNormandie devient la première Région à adopter une délibération qui prévoit de ne pas subventionner les évènements qui présentent des animaux sauvages, dont les fêtes médiévales⚔️

Bravo la #Normandie @Herve_Morin @nathporte !

— PAZ (@paz_zoopolis) March 20, 2024

However, the founder of la Passion du Roy in Falaise (Calvados) - a group that runs medieval-style shows and festivals using birds of prey - has lamented the change, and the wider trend.

"I think it's a shame that local authorities have taken sides by giving credit to associations that talk a lot of rubbish about our business practices,” said Nicolas Ferrari to Le Parisien.

“But it's clear that their lobbying is starting to pay off,” he said. “We're already seeing this with certain festivals that have given up on using us.”

Mr Ferrari has denied that any of his eight birds of prey are in any way mistreated. He said that the ban on funding pointed to a lack of knowledge of the practice among authorities.

However, the impact of the funding ban may be mixed; while the Falaise event does typically receive €20,000 in benefits from the region, other events that use birds of prey already go ahead without any regional funding.

The new ban on funding comes ahead of a nationwide ban on the use of non-domestic animals in all travelling shows across France, which is set to come into force in 2028.

Several other areas and cities across the country have, for their part, also banned (or stopped funding) shows that use wild animals.

In 2023, Nice (Alpes-Maritimes) turned away the Zavatta circus after Mayor Christian Estrosi refused to allow it to be set up in the city due to its continued use of wild animals in its act.

A number of other communes have issued decrees that technically impose a local ban on circuses and shows with wild animals. Currently, a total ban is still illegal, but if communes can give a valid reason - such as a lack of space - they are free to turn the shows away.

Read also

Wild animals to be banned from shows in France – where will they go?
Lions, crocodiles: How exotic animal ownership rules work in France
French circus replaces wild animals with holograms