Advisory body seeks ban on all circus animals

Animal

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has recommended ban on use of all kinds of animals in circuses.

The statutory advisory body recommended the ban to the Environment Ministry at a meeting last week following an investigation authorised by it on living conditions of elephants and other animals in circuses. The investigation was conducted by a team from PETA India and Animal Rahat across 16 major circuses between November 2012 and July 2013.

Environment Ministry officials said that while the ministry was open to the idea, practical problems would have to be taken into account. "While it is easy to ban the use of animals in circuses, what happens next is the question. How do you rehabilitate so many animals which are now incapable of surviving in the wild? Government rescue shelters are already overcrowded," a senior official said. "A committee has been set up to examine the rehabilitation issues."

Circus owners said the recommendation, if accepted, would spell the death knell for Indian circuses. Rambo Circus owner Sujit Dilip said, "If it happens several families will be on the streets because they have only the skill of performing in circus."

While wild animals like tigers and lions were banned from circuses more than a decade ago, others like elephants, horses, camels and dogs are still being used.

Dilip said after the previous ban, authorities had packed off wild animals to zoos, where they died. "We take care of the animals. If there is such a ban, the circuses will have to close down."

The AWBI investigation report slammed the circuses for inflicting "physical and psychological abuse" on elephants and ignoring animal protection laws. It cited instances of elephants dying of anorexia, dehydration and infections.

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