It's not a good time to be a French circus

William Kerwich hasn't put on a circus performance since March 2020.

Instead, his family's traveling circus has been parked on a plot of land in southern France.

His lions and tigers are confined to their pens and his main tent is packed up.

Kerwich can only guess when France's lockdown - one of the toughest in Europe - will ease, and he'll be allowed to start entertaining crowds again.

"We are a fundamental of culture. We're usually the first show someone sees in their life. We go to the circus before we can go to the theater or the cinema. So, it's important than circuses continue this French tradition."

Kerwich feels abandoned by the state, even though it spent tens of billions of euros propping up businesses.

He received financial support of two euros a day per animal during the spring lockdown, a fraction of what was needed, and nothing since.

Even then his livelihood faces another threat: a proposed ban on wild animals in circuses.

Parliament is debating the draft legislation, which is likely to be passed.

If approved, the ban will be phased in over five years.

"The minister's announcements seem arbitrary to us.We could lose our animals, our professions, our structures, and our traditions. That's what we're afraid of ... for something that's quite arbitrary."

Kerwich's daughter, Cassandra, has performed all her life.

She dismissed any suggestion the family's animals were mistreated.

"I can't see a circus without animals, for me it's impossible. I grew up with them, all the animals for me are part of our family. The hippopotamus is the same age as my brother, and I grew up with him. And so it's true that taking our lives away from us will be the most difficult part, if this actually passes."