Victory: Following PETA India Investigation, Animal Welfare Board to Stop Use of Elephants By Circuses

For Immediate Release:
15 November 2013

Bhuvaneshwari Gupta; [email protected]
Dr Chaitanya Koduri; [email protected]

Board Decides to ‘Stop Registration of Elephants for Performance Under Performing Animals Rules in View of Huge Cruelties and Abuse Suffered by Them’

Chennai – Following 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 (MoEF) – the AWBI has confirmed in the just-released meeting minutes of the 39th general meeting of the AWBI held in Chennai that “The Board decided to stop registration of elephants for performance under Performing Animals Rules in view of huge cruelties and abuse suffered by them”. The notes further indicate the AWBI’s support for a ban on the use of animals in circuses and state that the Board “decided to stop immediate performance of all the injured and aged animals in the circuses mentioned in the report and seize them after making arrangement for rehabilitation” and that legal notices will be served to circuses “for using sick, injured and unregistered animals in their circuses as Performing Animals”. It also stated that PETA India’s findings will be forwarded to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) for further action.

PETA’s complete reports, photographs and videos are available upon request.

“PETA is distributing vegan desserts today in celebration of the board’s decision to end the slavery of elephants used by Indian circuses – animals who have spent their lives in chains and in fear of being hit and jabbed with hooked weapons with spear-like ends and nail-studded sticks”, says Dr Manilal Valliyate, director of veterinary affairs at PETA India. “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. It is high time for a ban on the use of all animals in Indian circuses. Any delay will mean the continued abuse of dogs, horses, camels, goats, birds and other animals. In the meantime, PETA asks everyone who has any regard for animals to stay away from circuses that use them since those circuses make the animals’ lives into a living nightmare.”

PETA India’s investigation was conducted from November 2012 to July 2013 and included inspections of the Amar Circus, the Gemini Circus, the Great Bombay Circus, the Great Champion Circus, the Great Golden Circus, the Jamuna Circus, the Jumbo Circus (Unit 1), the Jumbo Circus (Unit 2), the Kohinoor Circus, the Metro Circus, the Moonlight Circus, the Rajkamal Circus, the Rambo Circus, the SAM Circus, the Great Prabhat Circus and the Great Royal Circus. The findings include documentation of rampant apparent violations of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA), 1960; the Performing Animals Rules, 1973; 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:
• The rampant use of weapons, including iron hooks with spear-like ends (ankuses), sticks with protruding nails, whips and clubs, and animals with fresh bleeding wounds and injuries from the use of these weapons
• Animals who had died from inadequate care or who had simply gone “missing”
• Drunken circus staff members 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
• The use of elephants and other animals who were nearly blind or had severe eye problems in performances
• The use of old, injured or diseased animals in performances
• Birds’ wings that were crudely cut with blades to prevent them from flying (Cutting birds’ wings can cause bleeding, pain, imbalance and depression.)
• Animals with wounds and diseases who had not received veterinary care
• Inadequate food, water and shelter for animals
• Frightened animals who were made to perform dangerous acts, such as jumping through hoops of fire, in violation of the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001
• The 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
• An untrained underage child employed by a circus to shoe a horse (Ill-fitted shoes can cause permanent damage, pain and suffering to a 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 (These 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.)

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.

PETA is now calling on the AWBI, the CZA and the MoEF to permit performances only by circuses with willing human performers by immediately banning the use of all animals in circuses, following the lead of Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, England and Wales and Greece – countries which have already banned all animal acts from circuses. PETA is also urging state governments and union territories across India to ban the use of animals in their localities.

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