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Animals Used for Entertainment

Animals do not want to ride bicycles, stand on their heads, balance on balls or jump through rings of fire, but animals in circuses have no choice. Trainers use abusive tools, including whips and electric prods, to force them to perform.

Not only are elephants, horses, hippopotamuses, birds, dogs, camels and other animals often beaten by trainers, they suffer from loneliness, boredom and frustration from being locked in cramped cages or chained for months on end as they travel from city to city. Instead of being loaded and unloaded like furniture into trucks and warehouses, these animals should be in their natural habitats – exploring, seeking mates and raising families.

Animals held captive in circuses, zoos and other entertainment venues need you to speak out for them. Educate your community about why, for animals’ sake, parents should take their children for a hike or to a cricket game instead of patronising cruel animal acts.

Dancing Bears

Bears are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, and “dancing” bears are banned by the central government. But because of various factors, including the lack of a proper rehabilitation plan for the animals, the ban is not being properly enforced. PETA regularly gets calls and e-mails about bears who are forced to “dance” in major tourist destinations, including Shirdi, Shani Shinganapur, Kolhapur, Ahmadnagar and even the outskirts of Mumbai.

Qalandars (madaris) purchase sloth bear cubs, often from tribal poachers, traders or zoos, and then use pain and fear to train them to “dance”. When the bear cub is just 6 months old, a crude iron needle is heated and driven through the bear’s nose without the use of any anaesthetics or antibiotics, and a coarse rope is pulled through the sensitive, swollen wound. The nose wounds often fail to heal completely and frequently become infested with maggots. Male cubs are also castrated at a very young age to prevent them from becoming aggressive – again without being given any anaesthetics or antibiotics. When the bears reach 1 year old, their canine teeth are knocked out with a metal rod.

Beatings, food deprivation and the agony of being dragged around by grossly swollen noses teaches the bears to obey. They live the rest of their lives “dancing” at the end of 4-foot-long ropes with no mental stimulation at all – which results in severe stereotypical symptoms, such as pacing and swaying. The owners rarely ensure that the animals receive veterinary treatment, so these bears often die in misery because of a lack of timely medical attention.

You Can Help

  • Make a commitment never to patronise people who beg or perform using bears, and ask your friends and family not to patronise them either.
  • Write letters to the editors of your local papers urging others not to patronise people who use bears to beg or perform.
  • Hold a demonstration outside the office of the local authority. PETA would be happy to provide you with all the materials necessary for a demonstration.
  • Petition the Minister of State for Environment and Forests to implement the ban and enforce the proper rehabilitation of dancing bears.

Dancing Monkeys

Monkeys are trained to “dance” through beatings and food deprivation. Their teeth are pulled out by the madaris so that the animals cannot defend themselves.

The government of India has prohibited the use of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and lions for street performances. All species of monkey are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. This act declares that all Indian wildlife is government property and prohibits the capture and possession of monkeys.

Because of a lack of enforcement of the law, however, madaris across India brazenly use monkeys to beg for money. At the same time, there are not enough rescue facilities where monkeys can be rehabilitated before they are released back into the wild.

You Can Help

  • Make a commitment never to patronise people who beg with or perform using monkeys, and ask your friends and family not to patronise them either.
  • Write letters to the editors of your local papers urging others not to patronise people who use monkeys to beg or perform.
  • Hold a demonstration outside the office of the local authority. PETA would be happy to provide you with all the materials necessary for a demonstration.
  • There is a dire need for rescue and rehabilitation centres for monkeys across the country. Petition the Minister of State for Environment and Forests to set up more rehabilitation centres and enforce the ban on possessing monkeys.

Animals Used in Cinematography

Animals used in films are often treated as little more than props, and many suffer terribly behind the scenes. A film set, with its hot arc-lights, relentless retakes and trainers’ whips, is a frightening and foreign environment for animals.

There have been numerous cases of animals who have received severe beatings during filmmaking. Some animals have suffered serious injuries, and others have even died. Some animals are drugged to make them easier to work with, and many have their teeth and claws surgically removed or impaired or their jaws stitched shut.

Not many filmmakers realise that even if animals are not treated cruelly during the shoot, they are almost always mistreated behind the scenes. Exotic animals are either captured in the wild or bred in captivity, and they are trained using a combination of punishment and food deprivation. Physical punishment has long been the standard training method for animals in filmmaking.

Although there are laws to protect animals used in filmmaking, they are hardly ever enforced. After being approached by PETA India, the Bombay High Court issued a judgment on 22 August 2005 which required the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) to ask applicants to furnish a no-objection certificate from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) before certifying any film in which animals have been used.

Violence towards animals displayed in movies and on television – even when staged – makes light of a very serious issue, and public perception about the treatment of animals is often strongly influenced by images in the media. Although the AWBI sets minimum standards for animal care, the laws are insufficient and loosely enforced.

You Can Help

  • If you see a movie or a television programme which includes scenes of suspected animal abuse, write letters of complaint to the film company or the local or national television network.
  • Boycott movies which feature live animals, and ask companies which use animals in their advertising to switch to inanimate props.
  • It is important to provide producers with feedback and let them know there is nothing entertaining about the unethical treatment of animals. Although networks expect to hear from animal rights organisations like PETA India, hearing from individual viewers like you sends a clear message that programming which depicts cruelty to animals will not be tolerated by the public. Letters from individuals like you have been the deciding factor in most of PETA’s victories for animals.
  • Officials at the CBFC need to hear from compassionate individuals like you. Please send the CBFC a letter asking that the board regulate the use of animals in films.
  • Please also send a letter to movie critics who write for local or national publications and ask them to include a warning about possible animal mistreatment in their reviews so that caring people can avoid these productions.

Pet Trade

All kinds of animals can be found for sale in animal markets across the country, and all these animals are kept in terribly inhumane conditions. Puppies are drugged to prevent them from crying, large birds are stuffed into small cages and star tortoises and other protected animals are sold openly. Fish are sold in almost all pet shops and are kept in terrible conditions.

Wild birds, including parakeets, munias and mynas, who are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, are sold in the market. It is estimated that for every bird sold in the market, two die en route. Fledglings are stolen from their nests and smuggled to market in cartons and tiny boxes, and some are even rolled up inside socks for transport to cities. Captive birds’ wings are crudely clipped with scissors to prevent them from flying. The birds are doomed to a lifetime in cramped cages in which they can hardly stretch their wings.

Despite the Wildlife Protection Act, which bans the trade and trapping of all indigenous birds, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which restricts the trade in foreign birds, a black market in birds thrives openly, involving many of the country’s estimated 1,200 species. Laws designed to protect India‘s birds are well intentioned but rarely enforced.

You Can Help

  • Make a commitment never to buy any animal from a pet market.
  • Write letters to the editors of your local papers urging people not to buy from pet markets.
  • Adopt animal companions from local animal shelters and encourage others to do the same.
  • Never keep a wild animal in your house. Wild animals belong in the wild.
  • Inform your local forest department about illegal markets.

Cockfighting

Roosters raised for fighting are often confined to cramped cages and tormented to make them aggressive. Razor-sharp spurs are attached to the birds’ feet to make fights more “exciting” (ie, bloody). The birds suffer broken wings and legs, punctured lungs, severed spinal cords and gouged-out eyes. Those who die during or after the fight are really the “lucky” ones: the survivors are forced to fight again. There is no real “victory” for fighting cocks.

Although cockfighting is illegal under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, many birds are forced to fight to the death every year in different parts of the country. Gambling is the norm at cockfights. Young children are often present at cockfights, and exposure to such violence can promote insensitivity to animal suffering and lead to other forms of violence. Cruelty to animals has been shown to lead to violent crimes against humans.

You Can Help

  • Make a commitment never to patronise cockfights, and ask your friends and family not to patronise them either.
  • Write letters to the editors of your local papers urging others not to patronise cockfights.
  • If you know of a place where such fights are organised, inform your local SPCA or complain to the police immediately.

Zoos

Zoos claim to educate people and save endangered species, but visitors often leave without having learned anything meaningful about the animals’ natural behaviour, intelligence or beauty. Furthermore, most animals in zoos are not endangered species.

Despite their professed concern for animals, zoos often put profit ahead of animal welfare. Even under the best circumstances, captivity is cruel for animals who are meant to roam free. Zoos’ manufactured habitats usually preclude natural behaviour, such as flying, swimming, running, hunting, climbing, scavenging and partner selection. The physical and mental frustrations of captivity lead to abnormal, neurotic and even self-destructive behaviour, such as self-mutilation.

PETA investigators visited many zoos throughout India and found appalling neglect, decrepit facilities and animal suffering on a massive scale. Every facility was seriously deficient in terms of food, drinking water, housing, veterinary care, environmental enrichment, safety and security.

Countless animals were found to have no food or water. Many live in concrete and iron cages which do not have any enrichment or even a blade of grass. Some cages are so small that the animals can barely move. Many animals exhibit neurotic and abnormal behaviour, including pacing, head-bobbing and extreme agitation. Some have visible injuries and are clearly ill. 

Animals are often housed inappropriately. In several facilities, PETA found predators housed in close proximity to animals who are their natural prey – a situation which causes extreme stress to both types of animals. Some social primates are housed individually, and one elephant was seen chained by both front legs. Many animals have no shelter to protect them from weather extremes or to give them privacy. Animals were observed eating debris, rotten food and items which were thrown into their cages. Moats which are supposed to be filled with water are often dry, fencing is rusted and insecure and cages are barren and bleak.

Some facilities have few or no staff members present – much less security. Many zoos which are officially closed are still functioning. Visitors were seen feeding the animals with no zoo personnel in sight. Our investigators saw visitors teasing and taunting animals and throwing rocks and debris. Few or no educational materials were available.

After PETA filed a lawsuit against the Mumbai Zoo, conditions improved for a number of animals, including the following:

  • Four porcupines were released into the wild.
  • Several peacocks were released into the forests.
  • Seven pythons were released into the wild.
  • Several sambars were relocated.
  • A bear named Mohan was transferred to a better facility.
  • One hippopotamus was sent to a better facility at Surat.
  • Two hippopotamuses were sent to a better facility at Kolkata.
  • An elephant named Rajkumar was transferred to another facility.

Following an undercover investigation by PETA at the Sangli Zoo, the zoo closed and the following animals were relocated:

  • Seven lions and three foxes were sent to Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in Visakhapatnam.
  • Three bears were sent to Sur Sarovar Bear Facility in Agra.
  • One rhesus macaque, one crested serpent eagle and two kites were sent to Katraj Rescue Centre near Pune.

PETA also rescued two bears from a Chandapur zoo and relocated them to a rescue and rehabilitation centre in Bhopal. The other animals from this zoo will be relocated soon, and the zoo will be closed.

You Can Help

  • Never visit zoos, and ask your friends and family not to visit them either.
  • Write letters to the editors of your local papers urging people not to visit zoos.
  • Hand out leaflets in front of your local zoo.
  • Conduct an audit of the zoo and send us your report. Contact us for a free copy of our zoo checklist, which we will be happy to go over with you.
  • Hold a demonstration outside the zoo. PETA would be happy to provide you with all the materials necessary for a demonstration.

Begging Elephants

Elephants who are forced to beg are constantly exposed to confusing and alien automobile traffic. The cacophony of horns and urban noises assaults the elephants’ ears, and the scorching, pothole-ridden roads hurt their feet. Elephants are chained by their legs and terribly neglected when they are not working. They suffer from skin ailments, eye infections, cataracts and diseases of the feet. Elephants need at least 200 kilograms of food and 150 litres of water daily, but working elephants often receive too little food and water.

In Mumbai, an elephant was hit by a water tanker. The impact was so hard that the driver of the tanker had to be extracted from the vehicle with the help of the fire brigade. It was almost seven hours before the elephant could be lifted onto a truck and taken to the animal hospital. Unfortunately, the hospital was not equipped to properly care for her, and she died two days later. This is not the first time an elephant has been hit by a vehicle – and as long as these gentle giants are forced to negotiate busy roads, it will not be the last time.

Hands-on training requires absolute domination of elephants by their keepers, and this can only be achieved through inflicting pain by beating the elephants with an ankus or an iron or wooden stick. Elephants have a natural inclination to vie for higher status within their groups as they mature; training thwarts their natural instincts and causes confusion and fear. This can lead to unpredictable bouts of aggression and create an extremely dangerous situation for elephant keepers and the public – and has resulted in many deaths and injuries.

In their natural environments, elephants might walk more than 100 kilometres daily foraging for food, yet in captivity they are almost constantly kept tied up. They develop foot problems, which are very rarely treated. Restricted exercise and hard surfaces – as well as standing amidst faeces and urine – can cause elephants’ toenails to become cracked and soft and can lead to infections.

In nature, elephants are highly social creatures who live in close-knit, matriarchal herd societies. Baby elephants are looked after not only by their mothers but also by other female elephants. Mothers often do not wean their babies until they are almost 10 years old. In captivity, baby elephants are separated from their mothers when they are as young as 3 years old. Elephants are intelligent and sensitive animals who are known to mourn the loss of relatives, just as humans do. Captive settings cannot provide elephants with an interesting, stimulating and rewarding environment.

You Can Help

  • Make a commitment never to patronise people who beg with or perform using elephants, and ask your friends and family not to patronise them either.
  • Write letters to the editors of your local papers urging people not to patronise people who beg with animals.
  • Hold a demonstration outside the office of the local authority. PETA would be happy to provide you with all the materials necessary for a demonstration.
  • Petition the Chief Minister to ban entry of elephants into urban areas.

Bullock Racing

Bullocks are forced to take part in cruel cart races in villages and towns all across India. Most of these races inflict pain and suffering on the animals. PETA has received many complaints about cart drivers who poke the animals with nails and sticks, whip them mercilessly and even drug them with alcohol in order to make them run faster. Some cart owners harness a bullock and a horse together.

In the case of Ms Jignasha Patel vs The State of Maharashtra and similar cases, the High Court of Maharashtra (Aurangabad Bench) has held that events such as animal races and fights are clearly contrary to the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

PETA has written many letters urging authorities in different parts of the country to stop these races, and we have had some success.

You Can Help

  • Make a commitment never to patronise bullock races, and ask your friends and family not to patronise them either.
  • Write letters to the editors of your local papers urging others not to patronise bullock races.
  • If you know of a place where bullock races are organised, inform your local SPCA or complain to the police immediately.

Snake Charmers

As the month of Shravan starts, so does the preparation for Naag Panchami, or the festival of snakes. Snake charmers throng the streets with cobras and other snakes in cane baskets. Devotees offer milk to the snakes and gather around to see them “dance” – the snakes spread their hoods and sway, apparently to the tune of a pungi, a wind instrument. Most people are under the impression that the snakes are being charmed by the music, but they are actually rearing up as a defensive reaction to a perceived threat.

After the snakes are captured from their homes in the forests, they are kept in cramped boxes or bags. The snakes’ teeth are yanked out, their venom ducts are pierced with a hot needle and sometimes their mouths are sewn shut. Snakes normally never drink milk, but the handlers starve them so that they consume it thirstily when it is offered to them. This later causes allergic reactions and often dysentery and dehydration – and can lead to death. Also, the toxic tikkas which are applied to the snakes’ hoods during the worship ritual sometimes trickle into the snakes’ eyes, blinding them.

Snakes are captured from their natural homes for other purposes as well. Their skins are made into leather purses or belts, while some snakes are sold live to hospitals and colleges for dissection. Others spend miserable lives crammed inside a dark box and taken out only for venom-milking.

You Can Help

  • Make a commitment never to patronise snake charmers, and ask your friends and family not to patronise them either.
  • Write letters to the editors of your local papers urging others not to patronise snake charmers.
  • Inform your local forest department of any incident involving snake-charming.

Animal Sacrifice

Animal sacrifice is widely practised as a means of getting rid of sins. However, no recognised and respected religion teaches violence or orders the death of any living creature. The purpose of a sacrifice is to give of oneself – to sacrifice something one desires or covets. Yet, as religious scholars point out, when an animal is sacrificed, it is the animal who sacrifices, not the human. Specific laws prohibiting animal sacrifice have already been passed in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Kerala, Rajasthan and Pondicherry.

You Can Help

  • If you live in a state which has not yet banned animal sacrifice, please write to ask your legislator to introduce a ban.

Working Bullocks

Working bullocks are often seen trudging along in the heat, straining under a heavy yoke to pull an overloaded, poorly balanced cart. These gentle animals often suffer from dehydration, untreated sores, muscle strain, depression and even beatings because of ignorance and carelessness on the part of their owners. Many cart owners overload carts to the point at which the animals collapse under the weight.  

The heavy wooden frame placed on the bullock’s neck often causes serious injuries. These injuries can largely be prevented by putting padding between the yoke and the bullock’s neck. Further, mandating that cart drivers replace the wooden tyres with pneumatic tyres with ball bearings would make it is easier for the bullock to pull the cart. All cart drivers should be required to get regular health check-ups for their animals, and all carts should be given a license only if their animals are in good health.

The Animal Rahat programme, which PETA supports, was created to make a difference in the lives of working bullocks, donkeys, ponies and horses. Animal Rahat is set up in the sugar-mill district of Sangli, Solapur. It provides free aid to bullocks who work in sugar mills in Maharashtra as well as to donkeys who work in the brick kilns and horses who pull carts. Animal Rahat alleviates the suffering of these animals by ensuring they receive proper rest, water and food as well as offering veterinary care to sick and injured animals. This also helps the animals’ owners, who are often too poor to afford veterinary care or to give their animals time for the rest and recuperation necessary to maintain their health and strength.

You Can Help

  • It is illegal to force animals to pull carts during the hours of 12 noon and 3 pm. If you see someone violating this law, please report it to the authorities.

Camels

Camels’ bodies are adapted to desert conditions, yet they are forced to live in cities across the country. In 1996, the Bombay High Court banned the entry of camels into the city of Mumbai. In spite of this order, camels have been found within the city limits on numerous occasions. Some have been brought in for slaughter, and others have been brought in for the purpose of giving joy rides to tourists. Camels can also be found giving rides to tourists in Ganpatipule, Lonavala, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and other cities.

You Can Help

  • Please write to your local district administration to ensure that all camels who are currently being used for rides in your locality are sent to rescue centres in Rajasthan.

Circuses

Animals in circuses lead a life of endless confinement and constant physical abuse and psychological torment. They are trained and compelled to perform under threat of beatings and whippings.

Circuses portray a distorted view of animals. Animals do not naturally ride bicycles, stand on their heads or jump through rings of fire. Whips and other weapons are often used to inflict pain and force the animals to perform. Even the animals’ access to basic necessities, such as water, food and veterinary care, is often severely limited.

Animals in circuses are kept in horrendous conditions. Dogs are crammed into dirty cages and hardly ever let out. Birds are locked inside cramped cages, and their wings are clipped so they cannot fly. Horses are tethered on short ropes. Elephants are tied by three legs and regularly beaten to keep them docile.

Animals are sometimes abandoned when the circus no longer can afford to keep them. For example, four sea lions, seven cats and seven dogs were burned to death in Andheri West, Mumbai, after being abandoned by the company which had brought them from Russia. An electric fire whipped through the locked rooms in which the animals were imprisoned in cages, killing all but three of them.

You Can Help

  • Make a commitment never to patronise circuses, and ask your friends and family not to patronise them either.
  • Write letters to the editors of your local papers urging others not to patronise circuses.
  • Hold a demonstration outside the office of the local authority. PETA would be happy to provide you with all the materials necessary for a demonstration.

Horses

In many cities, including Mumbai, horses are forced to give joy rides. They can often be seen struggling to pull heavy carts loaded with people, and they are frequently beaten or whipped when they become tired or slow down. They are forced to pull carts until late at night without adequate rest.

Often, the horses are denied shade or any sort of protection from sun or rain. They are given substandard food and have hardly any access to water. The stables where they are housed are typically filthy. Some owners simply tie their horses at garbage dumps for the night so they do not even have to provide food for them.

Some owners also make money by selling the horses’ shoes. This means the horses have to be shod over and over again, which can lead to chronic lameness.

You Can Help

  • Make a commitment never to take joy rides on horses, and ask your friends and family not to do so either.
  • Write letters to the editors of your local papers urging others not to take joy rides on horses.

Animals Used at Political Rallies

Lately, more and more political parties are using donkeys and other animals to express their ire at candidates or political issues. It is inherently wrong to use animals as disposable living tools in such missions.

You Can Help

  • Write to your local political parties and leaders urging them not to use animals in political rallies.          

Exotic Pets

Life in captivity often leads to pain and death for “exotic pets” such as turtles and tortoises. These animals can easily suffer from malnutrition and the overwhelming stress of confinement. The exotic animal trade is also deadly for the animals we do not see: for every animal who makes it to the store, countless others die along the way. 

The most commonly sold turtles in pet shops are not even native to India. These terrapins are called red-eared sliders and require access to land as well as water. They are strong swimmers, but in their natural habitat they spend much of the warmer part of the day sitting on logs or rocks and basking in the sun.

 

Fish who are kept confined to bowls and tanks lead empty and boring lives. During transportation to and from pet stores, fish become stressed and sometimes die because of noise, vibration, confinement, crowding, contaminated water and unnatural temperatures. Once in the pet shop, they are kept in crowded tanks and subjected to the glare of lights from above and below. Scientific research has shown that fish suffer both stress and pain, and it has also been proved that fish can be trained and learn tricks, just as dogs can.

You Can Help

  • Never buy exotic animals from dealers or pet shops. Animal shelters and rescue groups are filled with dogs and cats who need good homes.  

Aquatic Parks

Animals in aquatic parks also suffer. Fish and other marine animals who are accustomed to swimming freely in vast oceans are confined to small tanks in which they can only swim in endless circles. Often the tanks are barren, containing no sand, rocks or plants – nothing that remotely resembles the animals’ natural homes. Fish in aquatic parks are also subjected to the constant glare of artificial lights and droning of pump motors, and they may be confused by the glass – sometimes they do not recognise it as a barrier and collide with it, sustaining injuries.

Dolphinaria are marine mammal parks where dolphins and other animals are forced to perform tricks to entertain visitors, and they are among the cruellest displays of captive animals. Dolphins navigate by echolocation, bouncing sonar waves off objects to determine their shape, density, distance and location. According to Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the renowned ocean explorer Jacque Cousteau, dolphins in tanks “are bombarded by a garble of their own vocalisations, which may in fact be acutely painful. Because these are sounds of communication as well as navigation, their world becomes a maze of meaningless reverberations”.

Dolphins are highly social animals. In their ocean homes, they swim together in pods of three to 10 individuals – or tribes of hundreds. They can swim up to 160 kilometres per day, but in captivity they can only swim around in circles. The stress of captivity also weakens dolphins’ immune systems. This negates the purported benefits of captivity – veterinary care and regular meals – and leads to illness and premature death. At least three dolphins have died in Asia‘s first dolphinarium, Mabalipuram, in Tamil Nadu .

You Can Help

  • Make a commitment never to patronise zoos, aquatic parks or dolphinaria, and ask your friends and family not to do so either.
  • Write letters to the editors of your local papers urging others not patronise public aquaria. If no one visits these sad displays, they will eventually be forced to close down.

Frequently Asked Question