President François Hollande has refused to “pardon” two zoo elephants whose death sentence has provoked the actress Brigitte Bardot to threaten to move to Russia.
In a letter to the owner of Baby and Nepal, the two Asian elephants suspected of carrying the human form of tuberculosis, Mr Hollande said that he could not interfere in a legal wrangle over their fate.
The animals were exiled to a zoo in Lyon in 1999 after quarrelling with other elephants at the Pinder Circus. Diagnosed last summer as carrying TB, they were ordered to be destroyed by this Friday after a government decree was made in mid-December.
Their owner, Gilbert Edelstein, has appealed to the Conseil d’Etat, the supreme arbiter of the legality of government decisions in France, to reconsider the ruling. He has also twice appealed to President Hollande to intervene to “pardon” the animals and allow the circus vet to establish a second opinion.
The Conseil d’Etat is expected to decide in the next few days whether to refer the fate of Baby and Nepal to France’s highest appeal court.
The actress Brigitte Bardot has threatened to emigrate to Russia, following the example of the actor Gérard Depardieu, if Mr Hollande refuses to permit her animal rights group to treat the animals.