Animal Welfare Board of India Supports Ending Animal Circuses

26th July, 2017, New Delhi: Generations of animals abused in circuses for crude entertainment may soon be a thing of the past. In the biggest support to performing animals so far, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has sent an advisory to its parent Ministry MoEF&CC recommending “a strong legislation to end institutionalized cruelty to animals in circuses”.

AWBI is the prescribed authority under the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules 2001, and is in charge of registering animals to be used in circuses. In its 4 page recommendation to the ministry, the AWBI has given a detailed account of the history of regulation of animals in circuses, and reasons as to why it is not working, resulting in continued abuse of local and exotic animals.

This advisory is in line with the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO)’s demand, for permanent freedom of circus animals. Arpan Sharma, Director of the Federation said, “It is a very relevant and timely observation by the AWBI that the present legislation needs to change, and exclude animals in circuses. Coming from the agency who is in charge of circus animal regulation, it is the most credible and comprehensive paper advocating end to animal circuses. It observes that the process of training animals to perform unnatural tricks is inherently abusive, as shown in numerous inspection reports. FIAPO appeals to the ministry to take note of this and take immediate action.”

The AWBI’s recommendation also gives details of all animals rehabilitated from circuses by law enforcement agencies owing to their cruel treatment and violation of rules. It states “It is the AWBI’s considered opinion that the time has come for the government to bring an end to the use of animals in circuses and to make suitable changes in legislation that prevents the use of animals in circus entertainment for all time to come”.

The campaign End Circus Suffering, initiated by FIAPO has so far enabled the rehabilitation of more than 160 abused animals from 15 circuses. The Federation, supported by 82 members and over 200 NGOs nationwide, has also submitted a detailed report of the state of animals in circuses in India to the MoEF&CC. FIAPO’s independent investigations have also shown animals with broken bones; infectious diseases; permanent physical and mental disorders; crippled animals that can’t even walk being forced by circuses to perform tricks.

More than 40 organisations and 100 activists from 16 states have been involved with detecting and reporting cruelty to animals in circuses, as part of the End Circus Suffering campaign initiated by the Federation.

The campaign has revealed violation of multiple provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA) and the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001 (PARR) by circuses. From cutting the flight feathers of birds to chaining elephants with spikes, circuses train animals under the harshest conditions to make them perform acts that are completely unnatural to them. The entire process of breaking the spirit of these innocent creatures during training includes burning them with hot iron, piercing their genitals, threatening them with fire, tying them for days on end without food or water among other gruesome acts. Displaying such abused creatures for entertainment is a reflection of circuses’ callous attitude towards suffering of animals.

Date : 26 July 2017