NEW DELHI: Already a shrinking business, the curtain seems set to descend on circuses in India, with the Centre’s new draft rules banning the use of all animals in any mobile entertainment.
Once approved after a mandatory period when comments will be sought, circuses will not have any “animal performer”. As things stood, the use of big cats like tigers and lions — long associated with the popular entertainment — was already banned. Now there will no horses, hippos,
elephants, or even dogs.
The rules meet the long-pending demands of animal rights activists and will serve to eliminate the maltreatment of animals who are forced to live in confined spaces and perform acts that are painful and not in keeping with their natural instincts. It will spell relief for animals who go through the ordeal of training that is often coercive.
The absence of animals limits the business of circuses to human performers and could accelerate its decline as a popular and relatively inexpensive entertainment. The romance of the circus, fading steadily over the years, will dim further as even human performers like trapeze artists, clowns, knife-throwers and contortionists are a dying trade.
“No animals shall be used for any performances or exhibition at any circus or mobile entertainment facility,” said the draft rules called the Performing Animals (Registration) Amendment Rules, 2018.
“The People For Animals (PFA) had requested the environment ministry repeatedly for an amendment in the rules to put an end to abuse of animals for unnatural performances in circuses and cruelty in the name of entertainment. After giving several chances to circus operators, this change is progressive and inevitable,” said animal rights activist Gauri Maulekhi, associated
with the organisation.
“A ban on the use of animals in circuses would bring India in line with other countries that have already made this move and show the world that this is a progressive, compassionate nation that won’t tolerate animal abuse,” said PETA India CEO Manilal Valliyate.
The actual ban will come in force after 30 days during which the ministry of environment will receive suggestions from stakeholders. It will apply to the use of all such animals which are currently being used in circuses or exhibitions like horses, dogs, exotic species of parrots, elephants and hippopotamuses.
Though the ministry had banned the use of lions, tigers, panthers, monkeys, bears and bulls in 2011 as part of its species-specific rules, the new draft will now be applicable for all animals across the country.
Maulekhi told TOI that though the Animal Welfare Board of India had taken note of the cruelty and derecognised most circuses, the implementation was a challenge in the absence of a “clear cut and comprehensive order”.
The draft clearly defines “circus” by adding a new clause, saying it “means a large public entertainment, typically presented in one or more very large tents or in an outdoor or indoor arena, featuring exhibitions of pageantry, feats of skill and daring, performing animals, etc”.
The Central Zoo Authority had earlier withdrawn recognition for use of elephants in circuses, but the operators used to violate it in absence of clarity in the existing rules by approaching various courts.
On receiving a large number of complaints, CZA cancelled the recognition of most circuses, but the process is a long and tedious one, riddled with appeals and litigation, during which animals continue to languish. Under the 2011 rules, the listed animals cannot be used (tamed or trained) even for advertisement purposes.
Date: 30 nov 2018