Tuesday 28 September 2021 | 35

Circuses supply skins and corpses to a tout-Paris taxidermist. Eye opening.


Mis à jour le 14 October 2021

Fraud in identifying lions like Jon who are kept in circuses by the Gougeon family, suspicions of trafficking… after an inspection by the DDPP [the French Departmental Directorate for the Protection of Populations]which revealed these problems, One Voice investigated, from the Champs-Élysées to the Puces de Saint-Ouen where a well-established stuffed animal seller revealed to us how he obtains the corpses and skins that he sells on for tens of thousands of euros! Like Dorian…

Hr blog

The lion and tiger trade is a very fruitful business

Trafficking relating to wild animals is third worldwide after weapons and drugs. Now we know the rumours about circuses: babies that are born and replaced by others that are just as young (at the Parc Saint Léger and Parc Saint Paul), the lions that we are following who suddenly disappear (Sultan), or even the trainers who don’t officially carry out reproduction but keep a male that is “not in the same bloodline” or keep males and females in the same cages year-round (Mario Masson’s ten tigers in a lorry), and the record logs which are accidentally misplaced…

The starting point for our investigation…

This latest case is the starting point for the investigation, for which we are revealing the results today. In Spring 2021, a report carried out by the Rhône prefecture’s veterinary services states that, during their visit to Joseph Gougeon’s Nouveau Triomphe Circus, they observed that the formal notice from October 2019 has still not been respected: the number of lions being kept was higher than the maximum allowed, there were insufficient housing capabilities, the management of the medication storage was poor… as well as a failure to identify the lions, one of which wore Jon’s identification number, despite him having been taken away from Steve Gougeon since June 2020!

Delivery of a lion’s remains with an unlicenced taxidermist…

The report concludes with Gougeon’s statement to the Rhône prefecture: the remains of a dead lion have been entrusted to a taxidermist.

After verification by the prefecture, this taxidermist would not be authorised or approved under the European regulation establishing the health rules applicable to animal by-products and derived products not intended for human consumption.

We have therefore investigated… starting with the Nouveau Triomphe Circus. And we have appealed against the prefect’s decision.

The survey has led us to a dealer of stuffed animals

Our investigators visited the dealer of products deriving from captive wild animals. His shop on the Puces de Saint-Ouen is always open, unlike those on avenue Georges V, where Claudia Cardinale once posed in front of a stuffed polar bear. You are welcomed by a stuffed bear cub (the animal skins aren’t stuffed with straw but with polystyrene, a much more ‘natural’ process…) surrounded by hunting trophies as well as giraffe necks and sordid staged items such as a doe’s head made up with hair rollers…

These animals are from the circus!

Using the pretence of wanting to buy a lioness skin, then a lion skin, our investigators were able to obtain valuable information.

The boss boasts about being friends with the Gruss family and with Éric Bormann, an eponymous circus trainer who shot Mévy the young tigress in Paris, about having gone on safaris, and about having repeatedly let wild animals roam free at parties or even within the flea market… he implies that veterinarians can always justify the need to euthanise a big cat from the circus, before condemning the fact that the market is dwindling with the planned end for wild animals in circuses.

Our investigators relayed their experience:

« The shop boss explained to us the lawful origin of the animals which, according to him, came from circuses. He explained to us that euthanising these wild big cats made selling their skins legal. If an animal shows aggressive behaviour, that’s enough for their death by euthanasia to be authorised. »

Dorian the circus lion photographed in the suburbs of South Lyon

Our investigators added:

« The correspondence exchanged with him revealed that it is possible to have a wild big cat stuffed, choosing between male or female. In addition, he was reactive to us changing our minds and was always in a position where he could respond favourably to any further requests. »

In fact, during our negotiations, after receiving two photos of a lioness skin, our investigators received photographs of a lion, still alive, taken in a lorry. When we read the beginning of the email and saw him in the photographs, we said we had to save him at all costs. But the sentences that followed made it final. He was already dead.

We named him Dorian. He will never grow old. The poor cat is currently soaking in a tanning bath. He will be stuffed by mid-October, transformed into a decorative object at a price that allows the entire selling chain a great return on investment.

We are also very worried for the lions and lionesses from the Italiano Circus who are also in Gougeon’s hands. Because FreeLife informed us that the Italiano Circus is selling their lorries and their fun park. What will become of the animals? Will the lioness skin be Bébé, Bellone or Caroline’s? And the lion? Will it be Mandela or Nelson?

Muriel Arnal, One Voice Founding President states:

« Dorian’s story and his look breaks my heart. It has reached the pinnacle of obscenity. As long as circuses are allowed to exploit animals, we will never lay down our arms »

What are parliamentarians waiting for to change the situation?

The bill on animal mistreatment under discussion at the Senate still does not provide for any monitoring of circus animals. At most, it envisions putting an end to animals roaming the streets, without any safeguarding or reinforcement of the protections that the ministerial decree is already sorely lacking.

The fact that it has been renamed by the reporter to make it say the opposite of its original intention is not insignificant.

Putting an end to roaming circuses without protecting the animals who have been locked up for life in cages in trucks or planning their retirement is far from enough! We have just brought to light serious irregularities and our investigation raises many questions about the trafficking of big cats in circuses. What are our representatives doing? Parliamentarians and ministers? Them doing nothing makes them accomplices.

We are filing a further complaint

Following our investigation, we filed a complaint to the Paris State Prosecutor on 28 September 2021 for the unauthorised ownership of a protected species and the exploitation of an establishment using animal by-products, which targets the taxidermist and the dealer (perhaps they are the same person), further to the complaint filed in August 2021, which targeted all those implicated in this network (circuses, trainers, the taxidermist, and the dealer… the investigation will tell us) for mistreatment and voluntary execution.

These captive big cats aren’t objects to be exploited. They must be protected! We will do everything in our power for circus animals. Dorian will always be in our hearts.

Julia Mothé
Hr blog

In the subject

Poliakov trial: does France really protect wild animals? Dumba in Germany, finally far away from life on the road

Comments 35

I accept that publication of my comments is subject to the code of conduct.

keria | Saturday 16 October 2021

Non seulement les cirques alimentent le trafic des espèces sauvages en amont, mais en plus ils font un double commerce de ces animaux : bénéfice sur le spectacle et sur la vente de leur peau qui, à son tour, dessert une autre activité : celle de taxidermiste.
Tout un réseau marchand vampirique sur le dos de ces pauvres bêtes qui, en plus, au lieu de recevoir de la gratitude pour l'argent qu'elles rapportent, sont maltraitées par leur propriétaire (vie presque constamment en cage, méthode de dressage violente).

Isaline | Wednesday 13 October 2021

C'est tout simplement écœurant !!!

Tout ça pour de l'argent, alors que c'est si beau un lion vivant, une girafe vivante!!

J'espère qu'un jour ces maudits cirques disparaitront!

Patricia | Monday 11 October 2021

Il y a aussi la grande responsabilité de nos dirigeants incapables de prendre des décisions fermes et le manque de lois et d'application ferme de ces lois. Et la ronde des présidentielles commence avec moulte autorisations de tueries d'espèces animales et d'exploitation à outrance de la nature.
Bienvenue chez les Humains !

Simone | Monday 11 October 2021

Tant que la cruauté envers les animaux, tant qu'il y aura des individus qui se donneront des droits de priver de liberté, de tuer, de faire du profit sur les êtres vivants et que les autorités cautionneront ces actes, ils continueront d'avancer dans leurs souillures jusqu'à en être recouverts !
Espérons que la conscience de certains d'entre eux soit touchée par la grandeur du respect de la vie.