Protecting Animals in Paris: 1851-1870

The Emperor Napoleon III, writes Robert E. Zegger, was a leading patron of the French Society for animal welfare.

The nineteenth century in France, as elsewhere, saw the creation of many societies for alleviating evils that previous ages had either ignored or regarded as part of an unalterable natural order. Although they derived their inspiration from different sources, these societies shared the common goal of improving life in a hard, ruthless, and bewildering world. They also shared an unbounded faith that the extension of human sensibility or kindness provided the basis for a better future.

Such was the assumption of one of the most interesting and typical benevolent societies formed in France during this time - La Société Protectrice des Animaux, or The Society for the Protection of Animals which grew from its modest formation in December of 1845 into an influential body of over 3,000 in 1869, with membership drawn from among highly placed persons throughout France. The operations of the Société Protectrice during these two decades provide instructive clues to understanding facets of French society during the Second Empire of Napoleon III.

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