‘Where is the Hippo?’ Delhi High Court Asks Asiad Circus

For Immediate Release:

11 October 2019


Garima Jain; [email protected]

Hiraj Laljani; [email protected]

PETA India Filed Petition Calling For Hippo Held in Isolation to Be Released and Reunited With His Parents

Delhi – Today, on a petition filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, the High Court of Delhi directed Asiad Circus to reveal the whereabouts of the lonely male hippopotamus it is currently holding in isolation, apparently illegally. The court also directed PETA India to supply a copy of the petition to the circus within a week and directed the circus to file its response within the following 10-day period. The matter will be listed for its next hearing on 6 November 2019.

In its petition, PETA India requested that the court order the seizure of the hippo and return him to his place of birth, the Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park, Patna, where he would be reunited with his mother and father. The group also submitted damning findings from its 2017 investigation of Asiad Circus to the court. In its petition, it also requested that the court direct the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to extend the purview of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to include all “exotic” wild animals, including hippos, birds, and others who aren’t currently protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. This would provide them with greater protection against being captured and transported for use in entertainment operations such as circuses.

“In the wild, hippos are very social and live in groups, spending about 16 hours a day in rivers and lakes. But Asiad Circus denies this lonely hippo everything that is natural and important to him,” says PETA India Legal Associate Amir Nabi. “PETA India is petitioning the High Court of Delhi to intervene on his behalf so that he can be returned to his home, where he’ll be able to enjoy the company of his family and lead a more natural life.”

The hippo was transferred to Asiad Circus in 2015. It’s thought that he has since been held in isolation in a cramped enclosure, in stark violation of the CZA’s minimum enclosure dimensions and guidelines for mandatory social enrichment, which state that a male hippo must be housed with a female. Additionally, Asiad Circus’ performing animal registration certificate was revoked by the Animal Welfare Board of India in 2016, and the exhibitor’s application for “captive animal facility” recognition is still pending with the CZA, making its use of this hippo a flagrant violation of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

The 2017 investigation of Asiad Circus by PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” – revealed that visitors were permitted to get close to the hippo’s poorly secured enclosure after the show, putting them at risk of being attacked, and that the tiny water tank in his enclosure contained only filthy, murky water and had hard concrete flooring, which could cause him to develop arthritis.

For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com.