Animal Welfare Board Asks States to Report on the Plight of Animals in Stranded Circuses

For Immediate Release:

27 May 2020


Hiraj Laljani; [email protected]

Sachin Bangera; [email protected] 

Board Issued Circular Based on a Complaint by PETA India That Animals Have Been Left to Suffer During the Lockdown

New Delhi – Following a complaint by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (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 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (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. It also shared a list of registered circuses in India, for information and necessary action.

In its complaint, PETA India pointed out that media outlets have reported that several circuses have been stranded around the country and that, in such situations, the animals they use could be suffering because of a lack of necessities, including food, water, and basic veterinary care. The group also stated that the situation is unlikely to change for some time, as the public will continue to be wary of crowds even after the lockdown has been lifted.

“We commend the action taken by the AWBI towards ensuring that animals in circuses are not being cruelly housed and deprived of basic necessities,” says PETA India CEO Dr Manilal Valliyate. “PETA India is calling for the use of animals in circuses to be ended altogether, as is already the case in numerous other nations.”

PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – also recently sent a letter to the minister of fisheries, animal husbandry, and dairying urging him to notify the Draft Rules framed under the PCA Act, 1960, that would ban the use of any animal for performance or exhibition in circuses. The group pointed out that circuses are travelling carriers of zoonotic diseases (which can spread from animals to humans). It also noted that animals commonly used in circuses could transmit diseases, such as tuberculosis (from elephants), glanders (from horses), psittacosis (from birds), and camelpox and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (from camels). Similarly, COVID-19 is of animal origin.

In 2017, through an advisory issued to the central government, the AWBI recommended the implementation of strong legislation to end the use of animals in circuses for various reasons, including the cruelty inherent in circuses, their rampant legal violations, and the unworkable nature of the existing regulatory framework.

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