MADRID (Reuters) – Spain plans to ban the sale of pets in shops, convert zoos into wildlife recovery centers and impose prison terms on abusers as part of its first bill on animal rights, which notably does not target bullfighting, for the moment.

The government said on Friday that the bill, which will go through a public hearing, another cabinet reading and a parliamentary vote, would also ban wild animals in circuses and the killing of animals. pets, except in cases of euthanasia by veterinarians.

“We are beginning to bridge the gap between common sense that seeks to protect the creatures that live with us and the law,” said Social Rights Minister Ione Belarra, adding that Spaniards were becoming more sensitive to animal rights every day.

Under the proposed legislation, a pet owner whose pet requires treatment for abuse would face up to 18 months in jail and 24 months if they die.

Stores will no longer be able to market or display pets, which will only be sold through licensed breeders, while zoos and dolphinariums will be converted into centers for the recovery of native species.

Political cartoons about world leaders

“(This way) children can learn about our local wildlife while growing up with animal welfare values,” Belarra said.

Initially, zoos will be prohibited from buying or breeding non-native species.

When their existing exotic animals die, they must be replaced with native species unless the facility has entered into a captive breeding agreement to reintroduce animals into the wild.

The Association of Iberian Zoos, which covers 48 of the largest zoos and aquariums in Spain and Portugal, said it regretted that government officials did not consult zoos when drafting the bill.

“Zoos play an important role in the conservation of biodiversity, many animals like the California condor would have disappeared without zoos,” said Javier Almunia, the association’s president.

The reform does not include bullfighting and the government has said the traditional cornerstone of Spanish culture should be treated separately.

“We thought that, unfortunately, this country needed a wider debate (on bullfighting) and this law was urgent and necessary for all these pets and wild animals in captivity,” the head of government told Reuters. for animal rights, Sergio Torres.

“That doesn’t mean we won’t do it in the future,” he said.

(Reporting by Emma Pinedo, Belen Carreño and Inti Landauro; Editing by Nathan Allen and Alison Williams)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.