PETA Issues Warning Against Cruel and Deadly Snake Shows in Advance of Naag Panchami

For Immediate Release:
13 August 2010

Madhuri Deshmukh; [email protected]
Benazir Suraiya; [email protected]

Mumbai – Today, as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and other volunteers embark on efforts to rescue snakes from snake charmers and rehabilitate them as they have done in years past in the lead up to Naag Panchami, PETA is discouraging members of the public from supporting snake shows and encouraging them to help snakes by reporting charmers to authorities.

“Naag Panchami is held in honour of the Serpent God, Naag Devta, but snake charming does not pay tribute to these fascinating reptiles; it tortures them”, says PETA India Campaign Coordinator Madhuri Deshmukh. “We urge members of the public to express their compassion for these tormented animals by reporting snake collectors and snake charmers to authorities.”

For Naag Panchami, snakes are captured and often kept in suffocating bags, kept in tiny boxes and starved, have their teeth violently yanked out, have their mouths painfully sewn shut and are brought into the cities. The snake’s venom duct is often pierced with a hot needle, causing the animal’s glands to burst. Some snakes hurt their eyes because of the tikka applied to their hoods during pooja trickling into them. Thousands of snakes die horrible deaths every year on Naag Panchami. Mumbai holds the world record for the highest snake mortality on a single day.

PETA is asking people who see snake charmers to inform us at (0) 98201 22602, as well as to the local Police. They can also file a complaint under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 as well as the 1960 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

According to the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, it is a crime for snake charmers to catch snakes, exploit them for business purposes or even own them. Under Section 11, Sub Section 1 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, it is illegal to torture or cause unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal; willfully and unreasonably administer any injurious substance to an animal; keep or confine any animal to a cage or any other receptacle that does not give an animal reasonable opportunity for movement and illegal for an owner to fail to provide sufficient food, water or shelter.

Because they are starved and kept thirsty, the snakes consume the milk offered to them. Nothing could be further from their natural diet. Milk causes the snakes to become severely dehydrated and have allergic reactions and often dysentery. Most die as a result. The snakes’ skins may be sold and made into leather purses or belts. Some captured snakes are sold to hospitals and colleges for dissection or for a miserable lifetime cramped in a dark box only to be taken out for venom milking.

Another misconception is that snakes sway to music. Snakes are deaf, but they spread their hoods and follow the movements of the snake charmer in an effort to defend themselves – an action which causes them exhaustion and fear.

Most snakes shun human contact and would rather flee than fight. But snakes used in these performances are forced to interact with noisy crowds and are subjected to excessive human contact.

Supermodel Jesse Randhawa and dancer Sandip Soparrkar
are so outraged that snakes are maimed and tortured on Naag Panchami that they starred in a stunning ad for PETA  in which Randhawa was transformed into a “snake” in a form-fitting bodysuit designed by Gavin Miguel, while  Soparrkar “charms” her with a flute. They danced against the tagline “Snakes Are Not Natural Performers—We Are.”

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