19.08.2020 Europe

Majority of French public wants better treatment for animals, poll says

By RFI with Mike Woods
© RFI/Sayouba Traoré
LISTEN AUG 19, 2020
© RFI/Sayouba Traoré

More than two thirds of people in France are in favour of measures to ensure the well-being of animals in domains of factory farming, hunting, circuses and scientific research, according to a poll published on Wednesday.

Polling institute Ifop questioned 1,009 people on a range of animal protection issues between 5 and 7 August in a survey commissioned by the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, an animal rights group chaired by the former French actress and singer of the same name.

Foundation spokesperson Christophe Marie said the results showed the French public expected policies aimed at improving conditions for animals.

“It's time for politicians to respond to the demands of citizens,” Marie told newspaper Le Monde, which published results of the survey on Wednesday.

Majority favour better conditions for animals

More than 70 percent of responses in most areas showed a desire for more ethical treatment of animals.

In farming, 91 percent of respondents were in favour of ensuring animals have access to outdoor spaces and 86 percent wanted laws to ensure animals were put to sleep before being sent to slaughterhouses.

When it comes to circuses, 73 percent said they were in favour of measures to help companies organise performances without wild animals.

For scientific research, 73 percent said they were in favour of banning experiments on animals within 10 years.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents said they would welcome bans on breeding animals for furs and 72 percent said they were in favour of banning sales of pets.

The hunting of wild animals was defended by only 18 percent of respondents.

Activists want animal rights referendum

Activists commissioned the poll to support a campaign for a referendum on animal rights launched in July by some 20 environmental and animal rights groups along with business leaders and civil society figures.

Under French law, if enough lawmakers approve of a proposal to seek a Popular Initiative Referendum, campaigners will have one year to gather 4.7 million signatures needed to make a plebiscite happen.

A recent attempt to hold a referendum on plans to sell publicly owned Paris airports fell far short with just a million signatures.

Animal rights activists said poll results have supported past efforts to see animal protection measures written into law.

“Last year, a bill aiming to ban bullfighting to minors under 16 was debated in the National Assembly,” Marie told Le Monde. “At the same time, we commissioned a study to know the opinion of the French public on this topic.”

Some activists said this approach yields a mix of results. For example, a 2018 survey showing 90 percent of respondents were in favour of banning practices of keeping laying hens in cages was released as MPs debated a bill on such a ban.

But the final version of the law “only banned new installations” and not pre-existing ones, Brigitte Gothière of animal rights group L214 told the newspaper.

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