Update: Rescue of 3 French circus lions proceeding

Update Sept ’06

Good news! Fund-raising is going very well and so far we have received over £75,000. At the moment we do not have the final figure for what the rescue costs will be. Several airlines have offered us discounts on the costs of transport of the lions, but we cannot confirm details until we have the necessary import and export permits, and know the timing of the move (which will affect the costs of various elements of the rescue).

The relevant officials we needed to deal with in the French government were away for much of July and August. The CITES export permits are now being attended to but this could be a long, slow process so we are trying to be patient! Rest assured the Born Free Foundation and our colleagues in France, One Voice, are doing all we can get this rescue underway. In the meantime, the lions remain in their trailer.

A One Voice representative visited the circus at the end of July and was told that, up until two years ago the lions did have access to an exercise cage, until it got broken. This conflicted with the information we were given on our first visit but hopefully it is true as it means the older lions have been confined in the trailer for ‘only’ two years, not seven. However, as these exercise cages are only about six metres in diameter and the amount of time the lions get access to them is extremely limited, they have, in effect, been confined in their trailer for those seven years. One Voice was also told that Djunka, the male, had been trained to appear in the ring, but apparently the hoop of fire fell on him on one occasion and he refused to jump through it again, and so that was the end of his performances.

We are making spot checks on the lions and they were seen last week. They appear in good health, but it is very frustrating seeing them in their barren compartments, knowing nearly five acres of African bush await their arrival.

As soon as we have any news on the progress of the permits we will report back.


While all the necessary steps are being taken to rehome these three lions, One Voice calculate there to be 490 big cats and around 500 other wild animals currently languishing in an estimated 200 French Circuses, with no happy ending in sight.

The French government has discussed the issue of either regulating or banning performing wild animals on several occasions in the last few years but to date the words have not turned into action. Please write to the French Ministry of Ecology (details below) urging them to bring in legislation to ban wild animals from circuses. Austria, Costa Rica, Israel and Singapore have already taken this enlightened step and the details on legislation covering circuses in England, Wales and Scotland is soon to be announced. The movement away from performing wildlife is spreading as it becomes widely recognised that travelling circuses, by their very nature, cannot cater for the behavioural needs of wild animals. We will pass on any responses to our colleagues at One Voice www.onevoice-ear.org. We hope to help their on-going campaign against circuses in France with any additional funds raised from this rescue. It is vital that the rescue of Djunka, Nalla and Shada will not only offer these three lions a new future, but will enable action to be taken on behalf of the remaining lions, tigers, elephants and other animals incarcerated in French circuses. Many thanks.

Mme Nelly Olin
Ministerie de l’Ecologie
20 Avenue de Segur
75302 Paris 07 SP

Tel. 01 42 19 20 21
Email: ministere@ecologie.gouv.fr


  • Show Comments (1)

  • Pam Watters

    Just seen a white tiger in a small cage in a zoo in Bergerac. No exercise run. Can't believe this practice still happens!

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