German government bans sale of floating paper lanterns

German government bans sale of floating paper lanterns

Setting off floating sky lanterns has been banned in Germany since 2009. But now, after a tragic fire at Krefeld Zoo on New Year’s Eve 2020, the German government has also banned the sale of such lanterns in the federal republic.

Floating sky lanterns banned in Germany

On November 1, the German government announced that it had banned the sale of paper sky lanterns in the federal republic. Their use had already been forbidden since 2009 and became more widely known to the public after a stray lantern led to a tragic fire at Krefeld Zoo on New Year’s Eve 2020.

“Until now, the problem was that sky lanterns were being sold legally, but it was forbidden to use them,” a spokesperson from the German ministry said on Wednesday.

Lantern ban is response to Krefeld Zoo fire

The new law comes in the aftermath of a tragic fire at a zoo in Krefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia. The fire broke out in an ape enclosure and quickly spread, killing around 50 animals held in the zoo. The cause became quickly apparent, and the day following the fire a woman and her two adult children who lived in a house near the zoo, handed themselves in to the German police.

The three women said that they had bought the sky lanterns on the internet and didn’t realise that there had been a ban against setting them off. The family were eventually fined 20.000 euros for criminal negligent arson.

The zoo received worldwide media attention and 2 million euros of donations following the fire. When plans to build a new, indoor-outdoor ape enclosure were announced, conservationists and animal rights groups voiced staunch criticism, with PETA arguing that “Rather than spending millions on the construction of a new prison for pitiable inmates, the money could have been used to protect their natural habitats in Africa and Asia for many years, which would be a more efficient way to secure the future of these species for the long-term.”

Thumb image credit: MEDIAIMAG /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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