Chained and Abused ‘Elephants’ to Call for End to Elephant Performances

For Immediate Release:

8 August 2017



Ayushi Sharma; [email protected]

Shambhavi Tiwari; [email protected]

In Honour of World Elephant Day, PETA Will Call for an End to the Cruel Use of Elephants for Performances

Delhi – Wearing elephant masks, chains, and shackles and holding out the palms of their hands – painted blood-red – members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India will gather at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday to urge the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to ban the use of elephants in performances, including circuses and processions, and for tourist rides. The action comes just days ahead of World Elephant Day (12 August).

When:       Wednesday, 9 August, 12 noon sharp

Where:     Jantar Mantar, Dharna Road, Delhi

“Cruelty and risk to human life are inherent when wild animals such as elephants are trained through violent abuse, exhibited in crowded and noisy environments, and forced to perform meaningless and confusing tricks,” says PETA CEO Dr Manilal Valliyate. “This World Elephant Day, PETA is requesting that the MoEFCC issue a central notification banning the training, exhibition, and use of elephants for performances in India.”

Even though elephants are protected under Schedule I of The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and have been declared a national heritage animal by the central government, they’re excluded from the list of animals banned from performances under Section 22 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The country’s existing animal-protection laws prohibit any cruel training, exhibition, or use of elephants for performances that require them to engage in  types of behaviour that aren’t natural for elephants, and these laws require the forest department to seize the animal if housing, upkeep, and maintenance aren’t adequate – but these laws are often ignored.

An Animal Welfare Board of India study points out that there’s substantial evidence that cruelty is inherent when wild animals such as elephants are violently trained. Their spirits are broken in order to make them obey human commands, they’re forced to perform meaningless tricks, they’re kept chained when not performing, and they’re exhibited in crowded, noisy, and unnatural environments. The report also draws attention to the increasing number of incidents in which elephants have reacted to abuse and have hurt or killed many humans – as well as the prevalence of zoonotic diseases such as tuberculosis in captive elephants, which can spread to humans. According to figures compiled by the Heritage Animal Task Force, between 2001 and 2016, captive elephants killed more than 526 people in Kerala.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” – notes that while elephants in nature travel as far as 50 kilometres per day, elephants in captivity often suffer from foot problems and arthritis because of long periods spent chained on hard surfaces. Many suffer from malnutrition or dehydration or die prematurely.

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