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The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) urges the French government not to vote into law a proposal which seeks to ban the breeding and keeping of cetaceans in French zoos and aquariums

WAZA supports its regional Association member, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s (EAZA) statement urging French legislators to vote against measures destroying cetacean conservation capacity in France.

This proposed legislation will have long-lasting and detrimental consequences for the conservation of endangered cetaceans in France and would reduce the number of options and tools for their conservation. Considering the conservation status of these species and the increasing threats they face in the wild, we cannot afford to reduce the range of options for them. Scientists and experts have been able to glean substantial and valuable knowledge from caring for non-threatened dolphin species in recent decades, which has been successfully applied for in situ conservation efforts.

A report released on 7 October by the world’s leading authority on nature, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) emphasises the role of ex situ conservation as being essential to conserve threatened marine mammals. The report, titled, Ex Situ Options for Cetacean Conservation, urges urgent conservation action to save at-risk dolphin and porpoise species through a holistic framework for species conservation planning, known as the One Plan approach.

The world has already lost the Yangtze river dolphin and stands to lose the vaquita porpoise. As highlighted in the IUCN report, the extinction of the Yangtze river dolphin and severe decline of the vaquita might have been avoided if ex situ management had taken place much earlier.

With more than one million species at risk of extinction according to the recent IPBES report, we all need to work together to save species.

Additionally, the proposed legislation would also have significant animal welfare consequences for the cetaceans currently in human care in France.

WAZA urges French legislators to consider the ramifications of this vote and to consider instead the opportunities for international collaboration that these zoos and aquariums offer to save species from extinction.