After PETA India Plea, High Court Of Delhi Issues Notice To Asiad Circus For Cruelty To Hippo

For Immediate Release:

1 June 2018


Nirali Gada; [email protected]

Dr Dipti Kapoor; [email protected]

Group Filed Petition Calling for Hippo Held in Solitary Confinement to Be Released and Reunited With His Parents

Delhi – Today, following a petition filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, the High Court of Delhi issued notices directing Asiad Circus, the Delhi Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to file responses. In its petition, PETA India requested that the court order the seizure of a lonely male hippopotamus currently held illegally and in solitary confinement by Asiad Circus and return him to the Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park, Patna, where he would be reunited with his mother and father. The group also submitted damning findings from its 2017 investigation of Asiad Circus to the court, the CZA, and the AWBI. The investigation report is available upon request.

PETA India also requested in its petition that the court direct the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to extend the purview of the CZA to include all “exotic” wild animals, including hippos, birds, and others who aren’t currently protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. This would provide them with greater protection against being captured and transported for use in entertainment operations such as circuses.

“In the wild, hippos are very social and live in groups, spending about 16 hours a day in rivers and lakes. But this lonely hippo is denied everything that is natural and important to him by Asiad Circus,” says PETA India Senior Legal Associate Swati Sumbly. “PETA India is petitioning the High Court of Delhi to intervene on his behalf so that he can be returned to his home, where he’ll be able to enjoy the company of his family and lead a more natural life.”

The hippo was separated from his father- and mother- in the Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park, where he was born, and transferred to Asiad Circus in 2015. Since then, he has been held in solitary confinement in a cramped enclosure, in stark violation of the CZA’s minimum enclosure dimensions, its guidelines for mandatory social enrichment (which mandate that a male hippo be housed with a female), and its directions regarding the inventory and expertise required to deal with emergency situations. Additionally, Asiad Circus’ Performing Animal Registration Certificate was revoked by the AWBI in 2016 and the exhibitor’s application for “captive animal facility” recognition is still pending with the CZA, making its use of this hippo a flagrant violation of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Last year’s investigation of Asiad Circus by PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” – revealed that visitors were permitted to get close to the hippo’s poorly secured enclosure after the show, putting them at risk of being attacked, and that the tiny water tank in his enclosure contained only filthy, murky water and had hard concrete flooring, which could cause him to develop arthritis.

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