Derecognised Circus Forces Elephant to Perform in Apparently Violation of the Law, Fights in Bombay High Court

For Immediate Release:
23 June 2015

Dr Manilal Valliyate; [email protected]
Benazir Suraiya; [email protected]

PETA and Bombay SPCA Investigations Reveal Illegal Use of Elephant and Unwell Animals at Rambo Circus

Mumbai – Undercover investigations by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India conducted on 14 and 19 May revealed that the notoriously cruel Rambo Circus – which was operating in Versova, Mumbai from 6 to 24 May 2015 – forced an elephant to perform, even though the circus’s recognition as a captive-animal facility was revoked by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA). This loss of recognition bans the circus from training, exhibiting or using wild animals, including elephants. And an inspection on 16 May 2015 by the Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA) found that elephants, horses and other animals used in performances were being confined and suffered from abscesses, visible bruises and lameness. In addition, the circus apparently violated an order from the wildlife division of the Forest Department of Maharashtra that prohibits the entry of captive elephants in the municipal corporations of Greater Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. Rambo Circus is also apparently in contempt of a recent High Court of Bombay order after it filed a petition challenging the order passed by the CZA, as the court has not stayed this order. The next High Court hearing is expected to take place 24 June 2015.

During its investigation, PETA observed that an elephant with abnormal swelling on her left forelimb was forced to hold a bat while handlers frightened her into swinging it repeatedly at a ball. The BSPCA observed that other elephants were chained continuously and one elephant suffered from oedematous (swelling of the belly region) as well as a swollen elbow joint. All four elephants held by the circus had not been given any care or treatment for their foot problems – which is essential for elephants in captivity. Eleven dogs and four exotic birds were kept in cramped, filthy cages while four horses and a pony all suffered from foot problems, painful abrasions and other issues.

“Rambo Circus has continued to prod an unwell, tormented elephant through unnatural routines despite the fact that its recognition has been formally revoked, which shows an appalling lack of concern for the animals in its care”, says PETA India Chief Executive Officer Poorva Joshipura. “PETA is calling on caring people to stay far away from Rambo and all circuses that still use abused and neglected animals.”

The circus has also been put on notice by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) as the result of a board-authorised inspection of 16 circuses, including Rambo, by PETA India. This inspection found, among other forms of cruelty, the rampant use of torture devices; animals who had died from inadequate care or had simply “gone missing”; drunken circus staff who handled the animals; nearly constant chaining, caging and other severe confinement of elephants, dogs, cats, birds and other animals; animals who showed signs of severe psychological distress, including constant swaying, circling and even self-mutilation and the use of elephants and other animals who were nearly blind or had other severe eye problems.

In addition, the AWBI has revoked the performing-animal certificates of four other circuses – including the Moonlight Circus, SAM Circus, Gemini Circus and Jamuna Circus. Recently, animals from Moonlight Circus, Grand Circus and Rambo Circus and an elephant from SAM Circus were rescued for rehabilitation. Along with Rambo, the CZA has also rescinded the recognition of five other circuses as captive-animal facilities and directed the AWBI to cancel the permission for SAM Circus to perform because it had not even bothered to apply for CZA recognition.

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