PARIS (Reuters) - French police have taken away an emaciated lion from a circus in Vironvay, western France, following complaints from an animal rights organization.
The prefecture for the Eure region said in a statement the lion had been seized as the circus had a license for only four lions. Four other lions remain at the circus and their health is being tested, it said.
Video footage obtained by Reuters showed the animal moving with difficulty in its cage at an animal rescue center. Its ribs showed through its pelt and it had deep cuts on its tail.
“This lion’s claws have been pulled and its teeth have been cut and filed down to the gums. This animal has suffered enormously. It is worse than the lions from zoos in war zones,” Muriel Arnal of animal rights group One Voice said.
She said the group has followed the circus for years but that repeated complaints to authorities about treatment of the animals had not led to action.
“France is one of the few countries in Europe that have not banned the use of wild animals in circuses,” she said.
She said that the lion was not used in circus shows but served for reproduction to feed a trade in lion cubs, and lived permanently in a small metal cage.
The circus could not be reached for comment.
The Tonga Terre d’Accueil animal refuge, where the lion has been taken, said on its website that the animal weighed only 116 kilos, about half the weight of a healthy 10-15 year old lion.
Reporting by Lucien Libert; writing by Geert De Clercq; editing by Barbara Lewis