Maggot wounds, injuries due to hitting, mutilation of body parts, exposure to hazardous chemicals, threat of electrocution and injury- these are some of the numerous ways in which animals were ill-treated by Jamuna circus. The circus was housing 1 elephant, 6 horses, 8 dogs, 7 puppies, 5 exotic birds and 6 geese, without information to government authorities, who had prohibited possession and training of these animals owing to cruelty.

Activists conducted a thorough examination of animals in the circus, along with qualified veterinarians. They reported that the circus had taken no care to ensure the well-being of the animals. Worse still, all animals showed telltale signs of abuse. Wounds on horses had received no medical attention leading to maggot infestation. They were not exercised adequately, leading to overgrown hooves. They also showed injuries on their legs as a result of being beaten with sticks. The elephant with the circus had multiple ailments, including an injured right front leg and the birds were mutilated by having their flight feathers cut. The circus was also breeding dogs illegally.

Activists reported the cruelty and the circus’ misleading of authorities to the courts; and were able to secure an order for rehabilitation of all animals. The 20 day long operation to secure their safe release took place in collaboration with different grassroots and national organisations, and the animals are now on their way to a permanent care center. This is only the second court judgment in the country ordering rehabilitation of all animals from a circus, the first one being from Moonlight circus in April 2015.

The present rescue comes as a welcome relief to all animals at Jamuna circus. It is also validation of the fact that the judiciary is able to look through the misleading veil that circuses cast to exploit loopholes in the law and continue to ill-treat animals. Activists were able to educate the local police on animal protection laws convince them to prosecute the circus.

This female elephant rescued from the circus was tied in the open without food or water

This rescued cockatoo has its primary feathers clipped and can never fly again

The rescued horses are severely malnourished and show open wounds due to beating

Jamuna circus is only one of the 53 circuses in India which have made a business out of animal cruelty. Such rescues are possible, thanks to proactive enforcement of animal welfare rules. However, in addition to the present laws, ECS urges the government to completely ban the use of all animals in circuses, so that the next generation does not stand witness to this barbaric practice in the guise of entertainment”.