PETA Circus abuse inspection

Posted on by PETA

A nine-month-long inspection of circuses across India conducted by a team that included representatives from PETA India and Animal Rahat and was authorised by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has revealed rampant and widespread abuse of elephants, horses, camels, dogs, birds and other animals used in circuses.

The inspection included inspections of the Amar Circus, the Gemini Circus, the Great Bombay Circus, the Great Champion Circus, the Great Golden Circus, the Jamuna Circus, the Jumbo Circus (Unit 1), the Jumbo Circus (Unit 2), the Kohinoor Circus, the Metro Circus, the Moonlight Circus, the Rajkamal Circus, the Rambo Circus, the SAM Circus, the Great Prabhath Circus and the Great Royal Circus.

The findings include documentation of rampant apparent violations of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960; the Performing Animals Rules, 1973; and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, among other guidelines aimed to protect animals from abuse.

Of the inspected circuses, the Great Champion Circus was the only one featuring human-only shows. The findings at the 15 other circuses included the following issues:

1. Rampant use of weapons, including iron hooks with knife-like ends (ankuses), sticks with protruding nails, whips and clubs as well as animals with fresh bleeding wounds and injuries from the use of weapons

Camel hit with stick in Jumbo Circus.


Ankushes and nail-tipped stick found in Rambo Circus.


Elephant hit on the face in Great Prabhat Circus.


Dog hit with stick in SAM Circus.


Ankush used on elephant in Rajkamal Circus.

6. Animals who had died from inadequate care or who had simply gone “missing”

33-year-old Sadhana died in Jamuna Circus, which lacked a full-time veterinarian.

7. Drunken circus staff who were handling animals

Inebriated mahout at Rajkamal Circus. 

8. Nearly constant chaining and caging and other severe confinement of elephants, dogs, cats, birds such as emus and other animals

Elephant in spiked chain at Rambo Circus.


Dogs forced to live on iron mesh at Moonlight Circus.


Birds in tiny barren cages at Amar Circus.

11. Elephants, camels, dogs and other animals who showed signs of severe psychological distress, including constant swaying, circling and even self-biting

This camel in Great Bombay Circus bites himself from frustration.

12. Use of elephants and other animals who were nearly blind or had severe eye problems in performances

This elephant is forced to perform in SAM Circus.

13. Use of old animals in performances and of injured and diseased animals in performances

Limping dog with wound forced to perform in Rajkamal Circus.

14. Birds’ wings were crudely cut with blades to prevent them from flying (Cutting birds’ wings can cause bleeding, pain, imbalance and depression in birds.)

This bird in Jamuna Circus cannot fly.

 15. Inadequate food, water and shelter for animals

Rotten filthy bird food at Rajkamal Circus.


No shelter from the heat at Jamuna Circus.

17. Frightened animals who were forced to perform dangerous acts, such as jumping through hoops of fire, in violation of the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001 

Animal forced near fire in Jamuna Circus.

18. Use of animals not registered with the AWBI or made to perform acts not registered with the AWBI, in violation of the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001

Elephants displayed at Jumbo Circus despite AWBI registration having been withdrawn.


Unregistered goats at Moonlight Circus.


Animals were commonly forced to perform unregistered acts like this one in Great Prabhat Circus.

21. The Rajkamal Circus illegally keeping an elephant tusk 

Tusk kept illegally found at Rajkamal Circus.

 22. Breeding of animals, with resulting offspring not registered with the AWBI 

Unregistered calf at Moonlight Circus.

  • An untrained underage child employed by a circus to shoe a horse (Ill-fitted shoes can cause permanent damage, pain and suffering to a horse.)
  • Evidence of falsification of documents declaring even pregnant and ill animals fit for transport

PETA is calling on the AWBI, the Central Zoo Authority and the Ministry of Environment and Forests to permit only circuses with willing human performers by immediately banning the use of all animals in circuses, following in the lead of Bolivia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Cyprus and Greece – countries which have already banned all animal acts from circuses. In the meantime, PETA is also urging state governments and union territories across India to ban the use of animals in their localities.

You can help bring in the ban. Take action today.


For the detailed report, click here.