When well-known item girl, actor, model and television talk-show host Rakhi Sawant learned how animal “performers” are bullied and beaten under the big top, she pounced on the chance to pose for a PETA India anti-circus ad. In the provocative ad, Rakhi – who was transformed into a tiger by body-paint expert Al Alva – crouches in a small cage holding a sign reading, “Circus: No Fun for Animals”.
Why is Rakhi fighting mad about animal acts? Animals used in circuses lead miserable lives. Animals do not voluntarily ride bicycles, stand on their heads or jump through rings of fire. They do not perform these and other meaningless tricks because they want to; they perform because they are afraid not to. Trainers use whips, bullhooks, prods and other cruel devices to beat animals into submission and obedience. There is no such thing as “positive reinforcement” – only varying degrees of punishment and deprivation.
Even though regulations prohibit animal performances unless the exhibitor registers with the Animal Welfare Board of India, many circuses blatantly disregard the rules. Because no government agency monitors or regulates training sessions, animals are often beaten, whipped, chained and confined to cramped cages behind the scenes.
In May 2001, the Supreme Court of India upheld a 1998 central government notification banning circus owners from training or exhibiting bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and lions. Despite this, many circuses continue to make these animals perform in blatant violation of the law. If you see any of these species being forced to perform, contact your local law enforcement agency and demand that it intervene.
Learn more about circus cruelty.
You can help stop the suffering of animals abused in the name of entertainment. Support PETA India’s vital work.