As the world battles the novel coronavirus, a deadly pathogen that jumped to humans from other animals, PETA India has fired off a letter urging the minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying to notify the draft rules framed under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and impose a ban on animal performances and the exhibition of any animals in circuses, stating that circuses are travelling carriers of zoonotic diseases, which can spread to humans from other animals.
Animals commonly used in circuses can transmit zoonotic diseases to humans, such as tuberculosis from elephants, glanders from horses, psittacosis (parrot fever) from birds, and both camelpox and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) – which is caused by a coronavirus – from camels. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many circuses are stranded in various places and the animals used by them lack water and food – a situation that is unlikely to change for some time, even as lockdowns end, because the public continues to be wary of crowds.
In addition to endangering the public, animal circuses are inherently cruel. Animals 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.
PETA India opposes speciesism, the human-supremacist belief that other animals exist for us to exploit and commodify. Other countries that have banned the use of animals in circuses include Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, and Greece.