Circus animals, battery hens lead debate

A ban on wild animals in circuses and modernising battery chicken cages were the main points of discussion during Monday’s parliamentary debate on the cabinet’s animal welfare plans.

There is, however, no agreement between the three governing parties.
Both Labour (PvdA) and the ChristenUnie want a ban on circus animals, but the Christian Democrats (CDA) think this is going too far. ‘What is a wild animal?’ asked CDA MP Henk Jan Ormel. ‘Haile Selassi kept lions and fed them.’
Agricultural minister Gerda Verburg (CDA), taking questions on behalf of the government, said she wanted to know more about the possible ‘welfare damage’ to circus animals and is expecting the result of an investigation on the subject later this year.
The other main topic of debate was the future of battery hens – the EU is banning traditional lbattery egg production in 2012
Both the CDA and ChristenUnie support Verburg’s choice to replace the current empty battery cages with group cages on artificial grass, as found in Germany, the most important export country for Dutch eggs.
Labour says these group cages are not much better than the new-look cages (with perch and litter) which will replace the barren batteries from 2012.
Marianne Thieme, leader of the pro-animal PvdD party, told the press she was disappointed with the debate and would like a much more active minister.
The debate was not concluded on Monday and will continue at a later date.

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