August 19, 2009 / 4:19 PM / 11 years ago

French town bans elephants from beach

An elephant parades before the opening of the 74th Lemon festival in Menton, southeastern France, February 17, 2007. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

PARIS (Reuters) - A French town has banned circus elephants from bathing at its beaches over concerns the animals’ excrement could pollute the water and pose a health hazard to other swimmers.

Last year, elephants from one of the circuses that tour many French towns in the summer months were allowed on to the beach at Granville, in Normandy, to exercise and paddle in the waves.

But inspectors checking water quality found traces of their droppings in the sea and issued a warning over health standards at the beach, which is popular with French and foreign holidaymakers.

“Circuses are more than welcome,” said Roland Huet, an official at Granville’s town hall. “But this year the rules governing their stay clearly specify they cannot allow any animals, including elephants, to bathe on our beaches because of the risk of pollution,” he added.

Granville is particularly susceptible to this type of contamination due to its sheltered location in the bay of Mont Saint Michel, according to Huet.

A repeat of last year’s incident would prompt the closure of the beach and could seriously damage Granville’s reputation as a seaside resort.

“Imagine having to explain to thousands of holidaymakers that the beach has been closed due to animal droppings,” he said.

Reporting by Vicky Buffery; Editing by Jon Hemming

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