France's top court to decide if two elephants die


France’s highest court is to decide whether to give two allegedly tuberculosis-infected elephants as stay of execution. The government has already given them a second 40-day period of grace for tests after Princess Stéphanie of Monaco and Brigitte Bardot joined a public outcry against plans to put them down.


The Conseil d’Etat (Council of State) is to discuss an appeal by the elephants’ formal owners, the Pinder circus, to suspend the order to kill the elephants, Baby and Nepal, who have lived in a zoo

Tuberculosis is the second most fatal disease for humans on a world scale and, after seeming to have vanished from Europe, has reappeared recently.

Elephants are particularly prone to catch TB and one was found to have been contaminated and put down in France in 2004.

French law dictates that, if a cow is found to have the disease, the whole herd must be destroyed but it is unclear how it applies to elephants.

in Lyon, central France, since the circus handed them over to its care 10 years ago.

A public outcry, stoked by former film star and current animal rights campaigner Brigitte Bardot, led to the granting of a 40-day stay of execution, which ran out on Sunday.

Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll announced a further 40 day suspension and revealed that he had discussed the case with Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, who has joined the campaign to save the pachyderms, earlier last week.

On 14 January President François Hollande asked Le Foll to take a new look at the diagnoses already made.

In 2010 several tests found Baby positive for TB but only one did so for Nepal, leading them to be kept away from the public.

Both elephants are 40-years-old and had shared a pen with another elephant, Java, who was found to have been infected when she died in 2012.

The Pinder circus’s vet, Florence Ollivet-Courtois, is petitioning the agriculture ministry for the right to carry out new tests.

The Prefect of Lyon, Jean-François Carenco, said in January that he had received thousands of emails and SMSs accusing him of being “heartless” after the decision to put them down.

The daughter of the circus’s owner, Sophie Edelstein, accused the authorities of being “murderers” and threatened to “come and take them back at night”.

“These are my elephants,” she declared. “They don’t belong to the mayor of Lyon or the prefect.”

Bardot threatened to emulate fellow actor Gérard Depardieu and seek Russian nationality if the elephants were destroyed.

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