Delhi High Court Orders Seizure of Hippo From Asiad Circus After PETA India Plea

For Immediate Release:

22 January 2021


Hiraj Laljani; [email protected]

Sachin Bangera; [email protected]

Court Directs Issue of Non-Bailable Warrant to Circus Owner for Compulsory Appearance During Next Hearing

Delhi – Today, the Delhi High Court issued an order on an application filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India directing the Delhi Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to seize a hippopotamus from Asiad Circus with the help of Delhi police and to transfer the animal to the nearest zoo to the location of seizure. The court ordered that authorities wherever the hippopotamus – who PETA India refers to as Vijay (meaning victorious) – is rehabilitated should take adequate care of the animal until further order of the court.

The court also directed to issue non-bailable warrants against the owner of Asiad Circus to ensure his appearance on the next date of hearing. Justice Pratibha M Singh heard the arguments put forth by advocate Dr Aman Hingorani, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner, PETA India. The matter is listed for its next hearing on 15 April.

“It’s high time this hippo was afforded better care after a miserable life spent confined to a small enclosure at the circus,” says PETA India Senior Legal Counsel Swati Sumbly.  “This hippo’s plight reminds us that animals in circuses are still being beaten to perform confusing tricks and denied everything that’s natural and important to them. A ban on the use of animals in circuses is urgently needed.”

PETA India filed its petition in 2018, requesting that the court order the seizure of the hippo and return him to his place of birth, the Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park, Patna, where he would be reunited with his mother and father. In an application filed on 5 January 2021, the group pointed out that the Animal Welfare Board of India cancelled the performing animal registration certificate of Asiad Circus on 1 December 2020 for refusing to show the animals and disclose their location to an inspection team authorised by the board, as per the directions of the Delhi High Court.

Through its petition, PETA India also requested that the court direct the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to extend the purview of the Central Zoo Authority to include all wild animals, including hippos and birds, who aren’t currently protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

The circus obtained the hippo in 2015, and since then, the animal has been forced to live a solitary life at the circus. A 2017 report of an investigation into Asiad Circus by PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way” – submitted to the court 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 enclosure contained only a tiny, filthy water tank and had hard concrete flooring, which could cause the animal to develop arthritis.

PETA India opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit