Elephants Escape From Indian Circuses

(ELEPHANTS/CIRCUS ANIMALS) INDIA — The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) recently announced their decision to end the registration of elephants for performances.

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Circus Elephants at Rambo Circus are forced to performed unnatural acts such as the one depicted above. Photo Credit: photoshelter.com

Following a nine-month-long investigation of the country’s circuses that revealed widespread animal cruelty, the AWBI is finally putting an end to the elephants’ suffering.

The decision was made at the AWBI’s general meeting in August after an authorized investigation took place. The minutes of the meeting were just released to the public.

In the same meeting, the AWBI also announced its intentions to ban all animals used in Indian circuses within a year.

“Animals used in circus are treated brutally. They are kept hungry and cruel treatment is meted out to them. Hence, there is widespread demand for the ban of animals in circus shows,” the Secretary of the Animal Welfare Board of India, S. Uma Rani, told the Times of India.

PETA’s investigation of 16 Indian animal circuses revealed miserable conditions for all animals involved. Of the circuses that were inspected, 12 had elephants present at the time of inspection.

PETA released the following observed abuses:

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At the Rambo Circus, ankuses were found in the shed where elephants are kept. Similar weapons were found at several other circuses as well. Photo Credit: PETA
  • Nearly constant chaining, including with spikes, resulting in abrasions and other injuries.
  • Elephants subjected to routine abuse, often with weapons.
  • The use of visually impaired elephants.
  • Elephants with untreated wounds.
  • Missing elephants and deaths.
  • Elephants not registered with the AWBI forced to perform illegally.
  • Animals illegally forced to perform acts not registered with the AWBI.
  • Elephants showed signs of severe psychological distress.
  • Drunken mahouts and trainers handling elephants.
  • Poor and inadequate food and water.
  • Elephants held captive solely for exhibition purposes.
  • Sometimes a lack of shelter.
  • The Rajkamal Circus illegally kept an elephant tusk.
  • The use of elderly elephants.

Bollywood star John Abraham is one of many to stand behind the campaign to end this abuse. In a letter to the Indian government, he writes, “Unlike human performers, animals are forced to entertain through the use of fear, pain or hunger.”

Abraham urged officials to make the compassionate choice. Shilpa Shetty, Vijender Singh, and Wayne Parnell are just a few other high-profile activists to speak out for performing elephants.

Major international animal welfare and conservation group Animal Defenders International‘s Chief Executive Jan Creamer made the following statement regarding the ban:

“This is a fantastic step towards animal protection in India. We are thrilled that the Animal Welfare Board of India has acknowledged the inherent abuse suffered by circus elephants, and stopped their use. 

Elephants are intelligent, social animals that need a large amount of space, a natural social network and a great deal of stimulation. Our investigations have shown time after time that wild animals such as elephants suffer greatly in captivity, especially under the impoverished conditions provided by traveling circuses. The temporary and transient nature of circuses means that even with the best will in the world, circuses cannot provide animals with adequate facilities to keep them physically or psychologically healthy. 

We look forward to India enacting a full ban on circus animals within the year and hope that soon all countries, including the UK, will follow suit and stop the suffering of animals in circuses.”

Learn more about Animal Defenders International’s “Stop Circus Suffering” global campaign!

— Kayla Newcomer, exclusive to Global Animal