Top French court reverses ban on breeding whales, dolphins

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PARIS/NICE (Reuters) - France’s highest administrative court on Monday overturned a ban on breeding killer whales and dolphins in captivity after ruling there had been irregularities in the decree putting the legislation into place.

The ban was imposed in May as part of the previous administration’s attempts to improve the living conditions of captive marine mammals in marine parks.

It mirrored a move in California to outlaw breeding of killer whales and which was aimed at bringing an end to the practice of holding the creatures in tanks for human entertainment.

But several marine parks opposed the measure, saying that putting the ban into practice could be cruel.

“This is great news for our animals and zoos. This decree could have been a threat to our institutions,” said Pascal Picot, chief executive of Marineland Antibes in southern France, the largest marine park in Europe.

“We want to update the regulation for cetaceans, which dates back to 1981, with the government and experts, on scientific grounds and not based on convictions,” he said in reference to animal rights groups.

According to activists at, there are around 3,000 whales and dolphins held in aquariums, zoos and marine parks globally.

Reporting by Matthias Galante; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Richard Lough