Following PETA India Campaign, Circuses Lose Permission to Use Elephants

For Immediate Release:

22 December 2020


Hiraj Laljani ; [email protected]

Monica Chopra  [email protected]  

Great Golden Circus Is the Last to Lose Central Zoo Authority Recognition 

New Delhi – The Central Zoo Authority (CZA), a statutory body operating under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, has cancelled the recognition of the Great Golden Circus, the last circus in India which was using elephants for performances. The action follows a years-long campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India to end the use of elephants and other animals in circuses. Recognition as a “captive animal facility” by the CZA is mandatory for any circus in India that wants to keep and use wild animals, including elephants – who are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972 – for performances.

The 98th meeting of the technical committee of the CZA held on 19 November 2020 recommended cancelling the Great Golden Circus’ recognition for violating the WPA. Consequently, CZA during a meeting held on 7 December 2020 cancelled the recognition and issued an order on 17 December 2020. Earlier, the CZA issued a show-cause notice to the Great Golden Circus for transferring the elephants to a religious trust without its permission. The CZA have been updating the Delhi High Court about the status of recognition of circuses in India in a petition filed by PETA India asking for directions to the central government to ban the use of animals in circuses.

“PETA India welcomes the decision of the central government not to allow the use of elephants in circuses, thereby honouring these intelligent, sensitive beings in the best way possible,” says PETA India CEO Dr Manilal Valliyate. “We now request that the government completely ban the use of all animals in circuses, to show the world that this is a progressive, compassionate nation that won’t tolerate animal abuse.”

Numerous inspections of circuses by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and its 2016 study report, which recommended a ban on using captive elephants for performances – all of which PETA India was part of – have pointed out that there is substantial evidence that cruelty is inherent when elephants are violently trained, their spirits are broken to make them obey human commands, they’re forced to perform difficult tricks, and they’re exhibited in crowded, noisy, and unnatural environments.

In 1998, the government banned the use of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers, and lions as performing animals. However, elephants, although protected under Schedule I of the WPA, were excluded from this list and were being forced to perform unnatural, painful tricks along with other animals, like horses, camels, dogs, and birds. In 2008, the Ministry of Defence decided to prohibit the use of elephants during Republic Day parades, concluding that there were serious safety concerns, since frustrated elephants may become violent – and that uncertainties existed regarding the legality of their ownership.

PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit