Bombay High Court Refuses to Stay the Seizure of Animals from Rambo Circus

Pune, Maharashtra – Today, the vacation bench of the Honourable Bombay High Court refused to stay the operation of orders issued by the District Collector and Commissioner of Police in Pune to confiscate animals from Rambo Circus for violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001. Following a complaint received by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) against the circus – which was recently camped in the Pune District of Maharashtra – from Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, a joint operation of police and forest department officials, supported by inspectors authorised by the AWBI, rescued 22 animals from Rambo Circus. Animal Rahat, People for Animals, Wildlife SOS and ResQ Animal Coalition also helped establish the circus’s offenses and facilitated the rescue effort. The animals have been granted a new lease on life as a result of the raid. The four elephants who were languishing in the circus will be taken in by Wildlife SOS for treatment and care at its rescue centre.Three horses and one pony have been moved to a sanctuary run by Animal Rahat, and the 14 dogs are now under the care ResQ.

Separate investigations conducted byFIAPO and PETA India gathered evidence that the circus was illegally using three horses, one pony, 14 dogs and four elephants for performance. The elephants were forced to play cricket, stand on a small circular stool, hold a ring and carry a girl sitting on the ring. The dogs were forced to jump through hoops, take piggyback rides on each other and walk only on hind legs while pushing a barrel that had another dog inside. The horses were paraded and made to open a box and remove a cloth of the colour chosen by the audience. The acts that the animals were forced to perform were not in accordance with the natural instincts of their particular species.

Photos of the animals in circus captivity as well as their rescue can be downloadedhere.

The AWBI inspection team established that the circus was using animals in apparent violation of the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001, as the AWBI had revoked the Performing Animal Registration Certificate of the circus on 20 April 2016. This prompted the AWBI to write to the Pune District Collector and Magistrate requesting action. The Central Zoo Authority had also cancelled the “captive animal facility” recognition of the circus on 2 October 2014, and as a result, the circus was prohibited from housing, training, exhibiting or using any elephants for performance. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), the appellate authority on the matter, had upheld the CZA order. Rambo circus later challenged both the CZA and MoEF&CC orders in the Bombay High Court, and the matter is pending decision.

Welcoming the move to rehabilitate animals from Rambo Circus, Prashanth V, Senior Campaign Manager of FIAPO, said, “It shows that the ‘biggest and the best’ circus is not free from cruelty and abuse of animals. Grassroots and national organisations that facilitated the rescue, along with a significant chunk of the Indian population, believe animals do not belongin circuses. It is time the Central Ministry took notice of this and prohibited the use of all animals in circuses”.

“While the animals held by Rambo Circus can begin to recover in safety at last, other circuses still condemn animals to chronic confinement and deprivation of all that is natural and important to them when they force them to perform for a fleeting moment of human amusement”, says PETA India Director of Veterinary Affairs Dr Manilal Valliyate. “PETA urges families to stay far away from any facility that abuses animals for entertainment.”