For Immediate Release:
2 August 2011
Benazir Suraiya; [email protected]
Sachin Bangera; [email protected]
Group Asks Public to Be Vigilant About Watching for Lawbreaking Snake Charmers and to Report Them to the Authorities Immediately
Mumbai – Today, in the run-up to Naag Panchami, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is encouraging members of the public to avoid snake shows and to help snakes by reporting charmers to authorities.
“Naag Panchami is held in honour of the Serpent God, Naag Devta, but snake charming makes a mockery of the festival because it means torturing these fascinating reptiles, not paying tribute to them”, says PETA India Chief Functionary Poorva Joshipura. “We are enlisting the public to show their compassion for these tormented animals by being snake guardians and reporting snake collectors and snake charmers to authorities.”
For Naag Panchami, snakes are captured and often kept in suffocating bags or tiny boxes, are starved, have their teeth violently yanked out and their mouths painfully sewn shut and are taken into the cities. The snakes’ venom ducts are often pierced with a hot needle, causing their glands to burst. Some snakes’ eyes are injured by the tikka applied to their hoods during pooja, which trickles into them. Thousands of snakes used in the festival die horrible deaths every year.
PETA is asking people who see snake charmers in Mumbai to contact the following snake rescuers for help immediately:
- Nilesh Bhange (Plant and Animal Welfare Society) at (0) 9920777536/ 9820161114
- Rina Deb at (0) 9967772829
- Ranjit (In Defence of Animals) at (0) 9320056581
The public can also inform the state forest department if they see a snake who needs to be rescued. They can also file a complaint under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 as well as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 with the police. 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, Subsection 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, wilfully 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 in a cramped, dark box only to be taken out for venom milking.
Another misconception about snakes is that they sway to music. Snakes 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 alongside the tagline “Snakes Are Not Natural Performers – We Are.”
For more information about PETA, please visit PETAIndia.com.