Thursday 03 February 2022 | 6

Justice comes to the rescue of the Muller Circus against Jumbo and us


Mis à jour le 08 June 2022

The decision that came from the Lyon Administrative Appeals Court on 3 February 2022 is surreal. They believe that the Muller Circus was in the right when we requested a repeal of the first decision and they ordered One Voice to pay the 2000 euros requested by the circus, even though the latter had deliberately intervened in the procedure and despite the fact that the Ministry of the Ecological Transition did not make any requests and did not even produce a statement of case. We are lodging an appeal.

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The Court reiterated the regulations and the situation, namely that the Mullers have been in possession of an opening permit allowing them to show Jumbo since 24 October 2005 and that this permit could not be taken off them unless they no longer fulfilled the conditions that made it possible to obtain it. Up to that point, nothing unusual.

But then the Court again decided to base its decision on the unexpected visit carried out by the DDPP (Departmental Directorate for Protecting Populations) in Var on 27 June 2017 where they considered whether the conditions conform to the regulations in place. This is why we consider this to be a problem:

A very specific interpretation of the ‘circus’ order

« The report does not mention either the temperature in the facilities and the outdoor pool, or the dimensions of the paddock, and the entries in the report show that, contrary to what the association indicates, the inspector was aware of the statute of limitations specifically provided for the hippopotamuses by Annexe I of the order of 18 March 2011. In these conditions, it appears from the documents in the file that on the date on which the Prefect refused to repeal the opening permit, the Muller Circus was no longer following the reception conditions for hippopotamuses listed in Appendix I. The same applies to the safety regulations which were verified as having been followed by the inspector. »

This is what the Court has shown with its decision and this is where it becomes incomprehensible.

A quick reminder that Annexe I of the ‘circus’ order necessitates in particular that:

  • The indoor facilities must allow for a space of at least 30 square metres per animal (minimum 3 metre height). And that if this is not possible, that additional facilities in the transport vehicle must be agreed.
  • The temperatures in the indoor facilities must be at least 16°c with permanent access to a place that is at least 25°c.
  • There is permanent access to a pool that is at least 30m2 x 1.5m in height with a minimum temperature of 22°c.

    The statute of limitations is completely unbalanced by ‘good’ excuses not to apply it

    What are we reading now in the report cited by the Court? That the outdoor pool was not set up on the day of the inspection. The inspectors mentioned an ‘expanded pool’, then a dismantled pool, with the operator having to leave the site. Only one indoor pool was installed in a transport lorry and it was 1.7m deep with a surface area of 18m2... The features of the outdoor paddock are only briefly detailed.

    Thus, this inspection is good testament to the non-conformities to the statute of limitations of the order, both in terms of the lack of permanent access to a 22°c pool measuring 30m2 and the dimensions of the indoor facilities. Moreover, this report is incomplete: where is the summary of the temperatures, given that considering their values influences Jumbo’s presence in the establishment?

    And so an incomplete inspection report by the DDPP, accompanied only by statements from the owner, is sufficient in the eyes of the Court to prove that these operations are up to standard?!

    But what purpose does the statute of limitations serve if the inspectors are not required to tick all of the boxes and at the same time ensure that the requirements are respected?

    We did say a statute of limitations, not suggestions... and would it therefore be up to the associations to provide proof based on empty reports? Knowing that the reports that they produce are sys-te-ma-ti-cal-ly dismissed for alleged bias or disloyalty...

    The opposing views of the DDPP and the OFB

    And who is to say in this specific case, when the 2018 and 2019 reports from the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB: Office français de la biodiversité) contradict the 2018 and 2019 reports by the DDPP..? We therefore have two official regulatory bodies who at the same time have opposing opinions!

    Evidence in the form of images brushed aside by the Court

    Similarly, the Court refuses to consider that the information provided by One Voice was sufficient to prove that Jumbo did not participate in the show in 2017. According to the Court, it is sufficient to state that the circus was the subject of multiple inspections in 2011, 2015, and 2016, and that the Mullers had declared in 2016 that Jumbo the hippopotamus participated.

    Who will be responsible for the protection of the animals if not the Prefect?

    Finally, the Court denies the Prefect administrative policing powers to withdraw the animals based on the regulations relating to animal protection. According to them, when an animal is mistreated, they cannot remove it without following the successive formal notice procedures outlined in the Environmental Code, except for when the animal is in a state of psychological misery... We are hoping for clarification on this crucial issue; because if the Prefect is not competent and the courts close the complaints, absolutely no one is responsible for the protection of the animals!

    The circus’ voluntary action that replaces the competent Ministry

    The cherry on the cake is that the Court, despite the Ministry not having produced a statement of case, has welcomed the voluntary action of the owners who state that they are supporting the Ministry’s non-existent statement of case, and worse, has granted their request for legal fees to the tune of 2000 euros!

    One Voice is lodging an appeal!

    Since then, the association has submitted a new request to the Prefect and then to the administrative court, in view of the criminal convictions, to request the withdrawal of the opening permits and proficiency certifications of these incompetent owners. The appeal will be decided based on two factors: the legal fees and the sensitive issue of the possibility of taking the animals out of a place which mistreats them, in accordance with administrative policy. We will never give up on Jumbo.

    Continue to sign and share the petition for Jumbo

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    Our articles on the fight for Jumbo

    Translated from the French by Joely Justice

    One Voice
    Hr blog

    In the subject

    Tigers belonging to a cirque M. Masson trainer: Hearing in Beauvais on 20/09 following One Voice’s investigation Nouveau Cirque Triomphe: One Voice vs Gougeon and Mordon at the Bourgoin-Jallieu Tribunal on 14 September

    Comments 6

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

    Isabelle | Sunday 20 February 2022

    Une bataille perdue mais gardons l'espoir ! Merci One Voice de ne rien lâcher !

    Stéphane | Sunday 13 February 2022

    Cette décision est consternante !! Je suis écœuré.
    Honte à la justice française.

    Sarah | Friday 11 February 2022

    Je suis consternée. J'ai pu voir ce malheureux Jumbo sur un terrain vague à Nîmes, où le cirque s'était installé. Je les ai vus, lui et ses malheureux compagnons, pendant de longs mois.
    J'espérais tellement une issue heureuse pour Jumbo et ses amis. Quelle vie de misère.
    Je suis dégoûtée et écœurée de la justice.

    Christine | Friday 11 February 2022

    La Justice, certains jugent, trop... ne respectent pas la loi en ne faisant pas respecter les textes de loi, ou donnant des condamnations ridicules. C'est affligeant.
    Il s'agit de la vie, de la mort d'êtres vivants... mais il semble toujours bien plus grave de détériorer un mur ou un scooter ! de ne pas respecter le port du masque !!! dépasser le temps d'horodateur de 5mn. (Je respecte le port du masque et n'ai pas de voiture, ni scooter).