It’s official: following vigorous campaigns by PETA India and the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), 29 formerly abused elephants rescued from Indian circuses over the past five years are now enjoying high–quality lives at an elephant centre managed by the Radha Krishna Temple Elephant Welfare Trust (RKTEWT) in Jamnagar, Gujarat. The report comes from a recent inspection conducted by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) – a statutory body established under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960.
The elephants’ successful retirement is the result of campaigns by PETA India and FIAPO, following which the Central Zoo Authority derecognised and prohibited all circuses from keeping and using elephants for performances. The inspection was conducted by the AWBI following the order of the Delhi High Court based on petitions filed by PETA India and FIAPO seeking a direction to the central government to notify a complete ban on the use of animals for performances in circuses.
The inspection team, which included AWBI officials; representatives of the Gujarat State Legal Services Authority; the Department of Animal Husbandry, Gujarat; and representatives from PETA India and FIAPO, found that the rescued elephants now have a chain-free life and the opportunity to interact with other elephants, both of which are natural conditions that were denied them by the exploitative circuses. The care facility uses positive reinforcement when engaging with elephants, such as food rewards, and no torture devices, such as ankuses or spears, are permitted. The elephants are provided with nutritious natural food, daily walks, opportunities to forage and swim in large water bodies, and environmental enrichments. These 29 elephants were forced to perform in circuses, kept chained when they weren’t performing, and under the constant threat of being harmed by weapons, purportedly for training.
The circuses that relinquished the elephants include the Ajanta, Empire, Famous, and Kohinoor circuses from Kolkata, Great Apollo Circus from Delhi, Great Golden Circus from Ahmedabad, Great Prabhath Circus from Hyderabad, Moonlight Circus from Lakhimpur (Assam), Rambo Circus from Pune, and Rajmahal Circus from Kanpur.
Numerous inspections of circuses by the AWBI and its 2016 study report, which recommended a ban on using captive elephants for performances, have pointed out that there is substantial evidence that cruelty is inherent when elephants are violently trained: their spirits are broken to make them obey human commands, they’re forced to perform difficult tricks, and they’re exhibited in crowded, noisy, and unnatural environments. PETA India, FIAPO, and several of FIAPO’s member animal welfare organisations, were part of these inspections and reports.
The inspection team also observed eight horses rescued from Great Golden and Famous circuses and 11 dogs and 16 exotic birds rescued from Great Golden Circus living a life free from abuse in facilities managed by the RKTEWT.Help Elephants in Performances