Shocking Veterinary Reports Show that Animals Suffer from Cruelty and Neglect in Rambo Circus

Immediate Release:
28 June 2016

Dr. Manilal Valliyate; [email protected]
Prashanth Acharya; [email protected]
Suvidha Bhatnagar; [email protected]
Manoj Oswal; [email protected]

Animal-Protection Groups Vow to Take Legal Actionto Rescue Suffering Animals

Pune – The health assessment reports that were recentlysubmitted by Maharashtra Animal Husbandry Department (AHD) veterinarians to New Sangvi police –which reveal shocking health conditions of the 22 animals who were seized from the Rambo Circus, includingfour elephants, 14 dogs and four horses– are being made public today, andthey clearly show the cruelty and neglect endured by these animals at the hands of the circus. The Pune police seized these animals from the Rambo Circus on May 26, following a complaint from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to Pune District Collector and Commissioner of Police,which stated that the circus violated laws pertaining to use of animals for performance. However, the Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) of Pimpri ordered thatinterim custody of the animals be given to the circus during the pendency of the case filed against it by the police for cruelty, neglect and the misuse of animals.

Photos of the animals used by Rambo Circus and copies  of the veterinary health assessment reports are available upon request.

Elephants at Rambo Circussuffer from psychological deterioration as a result of prolonged and severe confinement and stress from abusive training,as demonstrated by their display of abnormal, stereotypic behaviour, including constant swaying, bobbing and weaving. They also suffer from visual impairment, swollen joints, gangreneof the tail, infected internal ears, torn ear pinnasfrom the use of sharp torture devices, and foot rot, cracked nails and obesity resulting from being chained in one placefor as long as 22 hours a day. The reports for the dogs indicate that they suffered fromneglect in the circus as evidenced by severe tick and flea infestations of the skin and coat, untreated fractures and overgrown nails. They also fear humans as a result of their treatment in the circus. And the reportsfor the horsesreveal that they haveswollen joints and tendons, wounds on various parts of their bodies, injuries on their tongues and the corners of their mouths(likely from the use of prohibited sharp bits), foot infections,and abnormal hoof shape and poor hoofhorn quality, which indicateinadequate foot-care practices at the circus.

Renowned animal-protection organisations – including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, Wildlife SOS, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), Animal Rahat, People for Animals and ResQ Animal Coalition – have been working to help the suffering animals used by Rambo Circus. The non-governmental organisations that were entrusted with caring for the animals after they were seized voluntarily spent lakhs of rupees on their necessary medical treatment and care.This is a clear testimony to the poor and abysmal health conditions of the animals. Prior to the return of the horses to the circus, it was revealed that, according to the state AHD’s second health assessment report, they still required further medical attention. The dogs and elephants who have been returned to the circus also continue to need care.

Investigation reports – which weresubmitted by PETA India, Wildlife SOS, and FIAPO to the regulatory bodies of circuses, such as the AWBI and Central Zoo Authority, in June 2015 and May 2016 –established that the elephants were housed and used for performances by the Rambo Circus in apparent violation of the May 2015 Bombay High Court order, which directed the circus not to house the elephants within it’s camp or use them in performances. These investigation reports also proved that the circus made dogs, horses and elephants perform tricks. Theelephants were forcedto play cricket, stand on a small circular stool and carry a girl sitting on a ring. The dogs were forced to jump through hoops, carry otherdogs on their backs and walk only on their hind legs while pushing a barrel with another dog inside. The horses were paraded and made to open a box and remove a cloth of the colour chosen by the audience. All these tricks are difficult, and the act of training animalsto perform them is inherently cruel. Neither the training nor the tricks were registered with the AWBI, which is in apparent violation of the law. In the ring, the animals were controlled through the use of weapons visibly carried by circus staff.

Manilal Valliyate, PETA India Director of Veterinary Affairs, says, “Rambo Circus condemns animals to chronic confinement and deprivation of everything that is natural and important to them when it forces them to perform for human amusement. We will explore all legal remedies to ensure that the animals are rescued again and live free from suffering. PETA urges families to stay far away from any facility that abuses animals for entertainment”.

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-Founder of Wildlife SOS, expressed concern that the health conditions of the suffering elephants were not taken into consideration. He says,”We are indeed aggrieved by the orders of the Honourable JMFC. We were hopeful that the Honourable Court will take into consideration the blindness and sickness of the circus elephants – as well as the multiple injuries and wounds present on their skin caused by use of bullhooks (ankushes) and spiked chains, the inflammation they have from being beaten, the dry straw being used as food and the elephants being tethered in their own dung and urine. As a result, the animals also suffer from foot rot, a very painful condition in elephants”.

Manoj Oswal, AWBI Animal Welfare Officer (Hon),says,”Cruelty to animals happens either due to neglect or deliberate abuse – or both.In the case of the circus, the animals were not just grossly neglected but also tortured for their performance. All dogs showed lack of grooming and … had severe infestation of ticks and pests. One dog had a fracture that was untreated for months, and there was a broken pin visible in her X-ray.They displayed fear-based aggression, confirming the fact that they were tortured for performances”.

Prashanth V, Campaign Manager for FIAPO, states,”Other than the fact that the circus was owner of the animals, there are many other factors that we feel the Honourable JMFC should have considered, we will emphasize on the various judgements of the High Court and Supreme Court in the matter and urge the superior courts to consider the animals as victims and not just property”.

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