PETA Investigation Reveals Rampant Abuse of Animals in Indian Circuses, Leads Animal Welfare Board to Call for Full Ban on Animals in Circuses

For Immediate Release:
4 September 2013

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

PETA Urges India to Follow in Lead of Bolivia, Greece, Cyprus and Bosnia and Herzegovina in Banning the Use of All Animals in Circuses

Delhi – A nine-month-long investigation of circuses across India conducted by a team including representatives from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and Animal Rahat and authorised by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) – a statutory body operating under the Ministry of Environment and Forests – has revealed rampant and widespread abuse of elephants, horses, camels, dogs, birds and other animals used in circuses. PETA is now calling on the AWBI, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and the Ministry of Environment and Forests to permit only circuses with willing human performers by immediately banning the use of all animals in circuses, following in the lead of Bolivia, Greece, Cyprus and Bosnia and Herzegovina – countries which have already banned all animal acts from circuses. The findings have already reportedly led AWBI to call for a full ban on the use of animals in Indian circuses. In the meantime, PETA is also urging state governments and union territories across India to ban the use of animals in their localities.

The investigation was conducted from November 2012 to July 2013 and included inspections of the Amar Circus, Gemini Circus, Great Bombay Circus, Great Champion Circus, Great Golden Circus, Jamuna Circus, Jumbo Circus (Unit 1), Jumbo Circus (Unit 2), Kohinoor Circus, Metro Circus, Moonlight Circus, Rajkamal Circus, Rambo Circus, SAM Circus, Great Prabhath Circus and Great Royal Circus. The findings include documentation of rampant apparent violations of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA), 1960, and the Performing Animals Rules and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, among other guidelines aimed to protect animals from abuse. Of the inspected circuses, the Great Champion Circus was the only one featuring human-only shows. The findings at the 15 other circuses included the following issues:
• Rampant use of weapons, including iron hooks with knife-like ends (ankuses); sticks with protruding nails, whips, and clubs and animals with fresh bleeding wounds and injuries from the use of weapons
• Animals who had died from inadequate care or who had simply gone “missing”
• Drunken circus staff who were handling animals
• Nearly constant chaining and caging and other severe confinement of elephants, dogs, cats, birds and other animals
• Elephants, birds such as emus and pelicans and other animals kept only for exhibition who were chained or confined in other ways virtually 100 per cent of the time
• Elephants, camels, dogs and other animals who showed signs of severe psychological distress, including constant swaying, circling and even self-biting
• Use of elephants and other animals who were nearly blind or had severe eye problems in performances
• Use of old animals in performances and of injured and diseased animals in performances
• Birds’ wings were crudely cut with blades to prevent them from flying (Cutting birds’ wings can cause bleeding, pain, imbalance and depression in birds.)
• Animals with wounds and diseases who had not received veterinary care
• Inadequate food, water and shelter for animals
• Frightened animals made to perform dangerous acts, such as jumping through hoops of fire, in violation of the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001
• Use of animals not registered with the AWBI or made to perform acts not registered with the AWBI, in violation of the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001
• Untrained underage child employed by a circus to shoe a horse (Ill-fitted shoes can cause permanent damage, pain and suffering to the horse.)
• The Rajkamal Circus illegally keeping an elephant tusk
• Evidence of falsification of documents declaring even pregnant and ill animals fit for transport
• Breeding of animals, with resulting offspring not registered with the AWBI
• Ill, wounded, and diseased animals who had been denied veterinary care (This included elephants who were suffering from fungal infections and severe tethering and hobbling wounds; camels with bursitis, dermatitis, alopecia, pus-filled wounds and capped elbows, knees and stifles; dogs with bloody wounds, dermatitis and cataracts; horses with saddle and hobbling wounds, lameness, osteoarthritis, overgrown and deformed hooves and damaged soles and birds with crudely clipped wings and missing nails.)

The investigators included experienced veterinarians who are also qualified as animal welfare assessors, along with other inspectors recognized as Honorary Animal Welfare Officers by AWBI.

“The findings from our extensive investigation reveal that cruelty to animals is inherent in the circus business, a conclusion that has already led numerous countries to ban the use of all animals in circuses”, explains Dr Manilal Valliyate, director of veterinary affairs at PETA India. “It is high time for a ban on the use of animals in Indian circuses. Any delay will mean continued abuse of dogs, horses, camels, goats, birds, elephants and other animals. In the meantime, PETA asks everyone who has any regard for animals to stay away from animal circuses, as they make the lives of the animals they use a living nightmare.”

PETA points out that the Rambo Circus has held shows without the use of animals at Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai and that the Great Champion Circus enjoys success without using animals in performances. One of the most internationally renowned and most popular circuses in the world, Cirque du Soleil, also uses only willing human performers.

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