Shocking Veterinary Reports Show That Animals Suffer in the Rambo Circus

Posted on by PETA

One of the rescued elephants performing in the circus

The health-assessment reports recently submitted by Maharashtra Animal Husbandry Department (AHD) veterinarians to New Sangvi police – which reveal the shocking health conditions of the 22 animals, including four elephants, four horses and 14 dogs, who were seized from the Rambo Circus – are being made public today, and they clearly show the cruelty and neglect endured by these animals at the hands of the circus.

The Pune police seized these animals from the Rambo Circus on May 26, following a complaint from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to the Pune District Collector and Commissioner of Police, which stated that the circus violated laws pertaining to the use of animals for performance. However, the Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) of Pimpri ordered that interim custody of the animals be given to the circus during the pendency of the case filed against it by the police for cruelty, neglect and the misuse of animals.

Dogs rescued from Rambo circus ready to be loaded into a vehicle

Dogs kept in tiny cages

Elephants at Rambo Circus suffer from psychological deterioration as a result of prolonged and severe confinement as well as stress from abusive training, as demonstrated by their display of abnormal, stereotypic behaviour, including constant swaying, bobbing and weaving. They also suffer from visual impairment, swollen joints, gangrene of the tail, infected internal ears, torn ear pinnas from the use of sharp torture devices, foot rot, cracked nails and obesity resulting from being chained in one place for as long as 22 hours a day.

Hobbling mark on left side of hind leg and Overgrown hoof of hind legs_

Hobbling mark on the left side of a horse’s hind leg and an overgrown hoof on a hind leg

The reports concerning the dogs indicate that they suffered from neglect in the circus, as evidenced by severe tick and flea infestations of the skin and coat, untreated fractures and overgrown nails. They also fear humans as a result of their treatment in the circus. And the reports concerning the horses reveal that they have swollen joints and tendons, wounds on various parts of their bodies, injuries on their tongues and the corners of their mouths (likely from the use of prohibited sharp bits), foot infections, and abnormal hoof shape and poor hoof horn quality, which indicate inadequate foot-care practice at the circus.


Elephants chained by both front and hind legs

Feet in a terrible state

Foot of an elephant in a terrible state

Renowned animal-protection organisations – including PETA India, Wildlife SOS, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), Animal Rahat, People for Animals and ResQ Animal Coalition – have been working to help the suffering animals used by Rambo Circus. The non-governmental organisations that were entrusted with caring for the animals after they were seized voluntarily spent lakhs of rupees on their necessary medical treatment and care. This is a clear testimony to the poor and abysmal health conditions of the animals. Prior to the return of the horses to the circus, it was revealed that, according to the state AHD’s second health-assessment report, they still required further medical attention. The dogs and elephants who have been returned to the circus also continue to need care.

Investigation reports – which were submitted by PETA India, Wildlife SOS and FIAPO to the regulatory bodies of circuses, such as the AWBI and the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), in June 2015 and May 2016 – established that the elephants were housed and used for performances by the Rambo Circus in apparent violation of the May 2015 Bombay High Court order, which directed the circus not to house the elephants within its camp or use them in performances. These investigation reports also proved that the circus made dogs, horses and elephants perform tricks. The elephants were forced to play cricket, stand on a small circular stool and carry a girl sitting on a ring. The dogs were forced to jump through hoops, carry other dogs on their backs and walk only on their hind legs while pushing a barrel with another dog inside. The horses were paraded and made to open a box and remove a cloth of the colour chosen by the audience. All these tricks are difficult, and the act of training animals to perform them is inherently cruel. Neither the training nor the tricks were registered with the AWBI, which is in apparent violation of the law. In the ring, animals were controlled through the use of weapons visibly carried by circus staff.

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