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16 circus animals get the perfect New Years’ gift- FREEDOM!

Animals freed from a hell hole through concerted action by Delhi activists

Delhi- As the country rang in 2016 with parties and fireworks, it was a quiet but equally exultant New Year for the 13 dogs and 3 horses illegally used for performing tricks at Great Gemini circus. In the wee hours of New Year’s Day, the animals found themselves making the most significant journey of their lives- from bondage to freedom.

After weeks of tracking Great Gemini circus both geographically and through the maze of regulatory paperwork, activists in Delhi were able to pin it down in its Greater Noida camp. The circus was using horses, dogs and 4 exotic birds for performing tricks without permission from the AWBI. When this was brought to the attention of the board, it recommended immediate confiscation and rehab of the animals to the district administration.

Led by FIAPO, local organisations including Fauna Police, SPCA Noida and All Creatures Great and Small formed an on ground team and were able to get the animals seized by the local police. PFA also facilitated the rescue effort. Presently, an FIR has been lodged against the circus for using the animals without license and to seize the birds as well, which the circus had removed from its premises overnight.

This latest rescue reveals again the shocking illegal conditions in which animals are languishing across the country. Working with local authorities, 13 circuses have been found violating existing regulations that has led to the rescue of 127 animals, but over 500 animals still continue to suffer in other circuses. The only long term solution to end this systemized cruelty is to call for a Ban on the use, and inherent abuse, of all animals in circuses.

‘During an earlier inspection, we had cautioned the circus against using animals without license. However, the circus ignored it and continued animal performances’ says Sajal Srivastav, SPCA Noida, which holds custody of the animals now.

Says Abhinav Srihan of Fauna Police ‘we did an undercover operation to prove that the circus was indeed using the animals as they had denied the same. We recorded dogs, birds and horses being forced to do unnatural tricks, and under the threat of being beaten/whipped. The dogs were kicked around the ring and the birds prodded with sticks in front of cheering crowds”. A local school had brought hundreds of pupils to see this ‘entertainment’. What they obviously did not see was the permanent physical and mental disfigurement the animals had undergone as a result of cruel training.

Anjali Gopalan of All Creatures Great and Small, who is helping with rehabilitation of the animals, says ‘the animals came to us in a terrible condition. We were shocked to see that two of the dogs were heavily pregnant. There was one which had lost vision in one eye, and another with a fractured limb, possibly due to beating. The horses had scars on their bodies and were very aggressive- a sign of psychological stress’.

Prashanth V, campaign Manager, FIAPO, says “the inspection by AWBI officers revealed widespread cruelty to animals and a total disregard to guidelines for care, upkeep, and performance with animals. This is the norm with circuses in India, as revealed by numerous other inspections. These traveling torture houses make use of loopholes in the system to evade prosecution and even diversify their trade into wildlife and human trafficking. With the present rescue and the ensuing legal process, we hope to show the inherent cruelty to animals in circuses. We appeal to the people to join our End Circus Suffering campaign to make a concerted effort to free all animals from this form of organized cruelty.”