For Immediate Release:
27 April 2015
Compassionate Star Supports Animal Welfare Board of India Decision to Bar Live Animals From Festival
Thrissur – In the wake of the Animal Welfare Board of India’s (AWBI) advisory telling Kerala officials to leave live elephants out of the upcoming Thrissur Pooram parade because they are not registered with the AWBI though required by law before any animal can be made to perform, longtime People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India patron Pamela Anderson has penned a letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala that extends an unprecedented offer: to contribute the cost of providing 30 life-sized, realistic and portable elephants made of bamboo and papier-mâché to replace live elephants whose use is coming under increasing scrutiny because of changing public opinion. If Anderson’s offer is accepted, this year’s Thrissur Pooram would be the third such progressive parade ever held in India. The first two were held by the Confederation of Tamilnadu Malayalee Associations, which used a stunning array of faux elephants during Onam festivals to the delight of audiences. Anderson saw the faux elephants and said she was “blown away!”
“I’m sure you know that both Indian and international public opinion is turning solidly against the use of elephants in captivity”, writes Anderson. “I’d like to offer my support for what is a wonderful opportunity to make a stunning, humane spectacle that everyone would talk about and that would garner international praise.”
Although it is illegal to beat and torture animals, elephants forced to participate in parades are trained through physical punishment and the constant threat of being struck with a stick or an ankus (a weapon with a sharp metal hook on the end). As Anderson notes the use of captive elephants would make visitors to Kerala also upset, “Seeing elephants in chains and forced to walk on hot pavement under the threat of an ankush or other weapon makes people sad and can ruin their holiday”. Capturing an elephant is prohibited under The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, yet many captive elephants are thought to have been captured illegally from the wild, separated from their mothers as babies and transported to Kerala.
The AWBI’s advisory against the use of live elephants at the Thrissur Pooram parade followed a tip from PETA India, whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”.