Canaries, parakeets and zebra finches will no longer chirp from small cages in the shadow of Notre Dame cathedral, after Paris voted to close its 19th-century bird market, deeming it inappropriate for this day and age.
Held on Sundays, the market on the Ile de la Cite island in the Seine river has been a magnet for tourists and Parisians with children for decades, but an animal rights group’s campaign against it and plans to renovate the site led to a city council decision to close it.
“The market had become the epicentre of bird trafficking in the Paris region, including of endangered birds,” Paris deputy mayor Christophe Najdovksi told Reuters.
“A second reason for closing it is that the conditions in which the birds are presented are no longer acceptable,” he said.
Dating from 1808, the bird market is expected to close when the city completes renovation of the flower market hall, with historical cast-iron awnings, on the same spot in 2023-25.
Until then, bird lovers can still buy a parakeet for 10 euros ($12) or canaries and other songbirds for 25 euros.
The city said 13 people have a licence to sell birds at the market but only seven use it and most of them also sell other things like pet supplies.
“In coming months, we will help the bird sellers transition towards a new business model,” Najdowski said.
Albert Badalamenti, who has been selling birds on the market for 38 years, acknowledged that some sellers were not respecting the rules but said it was up to police to enforce those.
“They said they would recycle us, find us another job. What I fear is bankruptcy. What are we going to do with all this stock?” he said, pointing at outdoor aviaries holding hundreds of birds at his breeding station north of Paris.
Animal rights activist Amandine Sanvisens of Paris Animaux Zoopolis said the bird market closure is long over due.
“Animals are not merchandise. They should not be sold like shoes or handbags.”