PETA India filed a petition in the High Court of Delhi seeking an immediate ban on the use of animals in circuses through the central government’s notification of The Performing Animals (Registration) (Amendment) Rules, 2018.
The petition notes that cruelty is inherent, rampant, and widespread in circuses, which often use weapons on animals and abuse them in other ways, commonly violating The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960; The Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001; The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972; and The Recognition of Zoo Rules, 2009, among other guidelines. PETA India also stresses the risk that circuses pose in spreading zoonotic diseases (those which can spread from animals to humans).Elephants have been known to carry tuberculosis, horses to carry glanders, birds to carry psittacosis (parrot fever), and camels to carry camelpox and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (which is caused by a coronavirus). Similarly, COVID-19 is overwhelmingly believed to have first infected humans through wildlife.
PETA India also points out that animals in circuses are continuously chained or caged and deprived of veterinary care, adequate food, sufficient water, and suitable shelter. They are forced to perform confusing, uncomfortable, and even painful tricks and are denied everything natural and important to them. Many display stereotypic, repetitive behaviour indicative of extreme stress. In its petition, PETA India has asked the High Court to ensure that animals currently used by circuses are sent to sanctuaries or rehabilitation centres in the case of animals like elephants, horses, camels, and birds – or, in the case of dogs, adopted into loving homes.
Last month, following a complaint by PETA India raising concerns about the plight of animals in circuses that are stranded during the COVID-19 lockdown, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) – a central government advisory body established under The PCA Act, 1960 – called on state governments and union territories to identify circuses stranded in any districts; inspect the animals, housing conditions, and feeding practices; verify the performing animal registration certificates regarding the number and species of animals registered with the AWBI; and submit a comprehensive report on each circus to the board.
Since 2015, because of the efforts of PETA India and other animal protection groups – and with the help of the police and forest departments – more than 100 animals, including 15 captive elephants and many horses, camels, dogs, and birds, have been rescued and rehabilitated and taken to sanctuaries.
Other countries that have banned the use of animals in circuses include Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Greece, Guatemala, Italy, and Malta.
The world is already battling a deadly animal-borne disease – it’s high time to stop circuses from dragging stressed and potentially sick animals from town to town. India’s ban on using animals in circuses has been delayed for over a year, and animals continue to suffer. PETA India has approached the High Court seeking direction to end their suffering now.