Tied elephants at the Moonlight circus camp stretching for a sip of water. This is a far cry from the 20 gallons of water they need everyday

Caged all the time, this bird’s flight feathers were clipped so it could never fly again

In a joint effort of animal protection organisations from across India – FIAPO, PFA Hyderabad, PFA Pune, PFA Uttarakhand, PFA Wardha, PETA, RAWW, Thane SPCA & Wildlife SOS, all animals in the possession of Moonlight circus were rescued and sent to permanent rehabilitation centers in April this year. The rescue was made possible as a result of the Animal Welfare Board of India and the Central Zoo Authority withdrawing regulatory clearances from the circus.

Organisations were able to mobilize the local administration and police of Nanded district, Maharashtra, where the circus was camped, to take action on the circus. A total of 4 elephants, 3 horses, 1 camel, 12 dogs and 13 birds were rescued from the circus. The birds, camel, horses and dogs have been shifted to PFA Wardha and the four rescued circus elephants were shifted to the Wildlife SOS Elephant Care Center in Mathura where the animals are leading a life free of torture and abuse.

Based on complaints and video recorded evidence by APOs, the police acted swiftly and lodged an FIR against the circus under relevant provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The circus had been a repeat offender and had failed to improve conditions of its animals despite multiple opportunities by government authorities. As a result, its permits to perform with and hold animals had been cancelled. Moonlight circus’ owner was also in trouble last year for the alleged rape of a child and employing child laborers.

APOs procured orders from the court to seize and take interim custody of the animals. The court observed “interim custody of the said animals and birds, if granted to the accused, there will be continuation of cruelty to said animals and birds and the very purpose of lodging the report will be defeated”. In the legal proceedings that followed, an appeal to a higher court by the circus for return of animals was rejected, and permanent custody of animals granted to APOs.