20 May 2016
Animal Welfare Board Inspectors Find Illegal Use of Animals for Performances
Bengaluru – Following a complaint filed against Rajkamal Circus – which was recently camped in the Kolar District of Karnataka – by Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)–authorised inspectors from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and Animal Rahat, a sister organisation of PETA India that works to bring relief to animals used for work, the circus management agreed to relinquish all 17 animals in its care to the AWBI immediately for rehabilitation and pledged to become an animal-free, human-only circus. The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) and People for Animals (PFA) also helped establish the circus’s offenses and facilitated the rescue effort. One horse and five dogs from Rajkamal Circus have been moved to a sanctuary run by Animal Rahat, and the 11 exotic birds – six cockatoos, three African grey parrots and two emus – have been moved to the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Bangalore (WRRC), where they will be cared for before being adopted out to loving homes.
Rajkamal Circus also signed an affidavit promising never to use animals again. The inspection team established that the circus was using animals in apparent violation of the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001, since AWBI had revoked the Performing Animal Registration Certificate of the circus on 15 January 2016. This prompted the AWBI to write to the Kolar Deputy Commissioner requesting action. The Central Zoo Authority had also cancelled the “captive animal facility” recognition of the circus on 2 October 2014, and as a result, the circus was prohibited from housing, training, exhibiting or using any elephants for performance.
The inspectors further documented that attempts were made to force a reluctant horse to run in circles and that a dog refused to comply with the instructions of the ringmaster. The dogs were also forced to roll on the ground, jump over multiple obstacles, push a trolley, hold an umbrella and walk only on their hind legs. The birds were forced to climb up and down a ladder, sit on a see-saw and swing, and move in circles holding onto a ring using their beak. Birds’ flight feathers were found to be cut off. A human performer was observed handling them inhumanely by forcing them to hold on to the stick using their beaks as well as moving them in the air violently, causing them to struggle for balance. The animals were kept in filthy conditions and were not being provided with adequate food and water.
“While the animals held by Rajkamal Circus can begin to recover in safety at last, other circuses still condemn animals to chronic confinement and deprivation of all that is natural and important to them when they force them to perform for a fleeting moment of human amusement”, says PETA India Director of Veterinary Affairs Dr Manilal Valliyate. “PETA urges families to stay far away from any facility that abuses animals for entertainment.”
“We are extremely glad that grassroots- and national organisations could work collectively to secure freedom for all abused animals at Rajkamal circus. That the circus has voluntarily relinquished animals indicates that these establishments are unable to adequately care for the animals in their custody” says FIAPO campaign manager Prashanth V. “Nationwide support for animal free circuses is growing by the day and we would like to thank the Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Shri Prakash Javadekar, who has backed the move for animal free circuses.”
“These birds – Cockatoos and African Grey Parrots – were handed over to us, some with broken wings and all victims of deep stress, skin lesions and self mutilation” says Honorary President of WRRC, Mrs. Suparna Ganguly. “We hope that with veterinary care and treatment in a natural environment, they should recover and live out their lives in peace.”
A nine-month AWBI-authorised inspection of 16 circuses by PETA India – which was conducted from November 2012 to July 2013 – found, among other evidence of cruelty and misconduct, the rampant use of torture devices; animals who had died from inadequate care or who had simply “gone missing”; drunken circus staff who handled the animals; nearly constant chaining, caging and other severe confinement of elephants, dogs, cats, birds and other animals; animals who showed signs of severe psychological distress, including constant swaying, circling and even self-mutilation; and the use of elephants and other animals who were nearly blind or had other severe eye problems.
For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com.