Law banning animals in circuses sought

AWBI advisory to Centre; eight of 27 circuses are registered in Kerala or owner is a Keralite

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has advised the Centre to pass a legislation banning animals in circuses.

The recommendation comes on the heels of inspections conducted by the AWBI following orders of the Delhi High Court based on a petition filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India.

Acting on a directive of the Delhi High Court, the AWBI recently cancelled the performing animal registration certificates of five circuses and directed the respective State government to rescue and rehabilitate the animals.

Notices issued

The AWBI also issued show cause notices to two circuses for gross violations and discrepancies and directed eight circuses to submit papers related to their closure and to explain the whereabouts of animals.

Eight of the 27 circuses registered with the AWBI are from Kerala or the owner is a Keralite. They are Great Rayman; Rajkamal; Great Bombay; Rambo (based in Pune but owner is a Keralite); Jumbo (two units); Amar, The Royal; and The Great Indian.

In 2017, through an advisory to the Centre, the AWBI had recommended implementation of a strong legislation to end the use of animals in circuses for various reasons, including the cruelty inherent in the industry, legal violations, and the unworkable nature of the existing regulatory framework.

In 2018, the Centre notified the draft Performing Animals (Registration) (Amendment) Rules, 2018 proposing to prohibit performance and exhibition of all animals in circuses.

“We commend the AWBI for advising the Centre once again to ban the use of animals in circuses. PETA India calls for the ban on the use of animals in circuses to be brought in as soon as possible,” says Manilal Valliyate, CEO, PETA India.

Recent inspections conducted by the AWBI found that many circuses had closed long ago and some of them concealed their animals to avoid inspection. Financial crisis due to lack of public interest had forced many circuses to down shutters. The COVID-19 restrictions had worsened the condition.

Of the 27 circuses registered with the AWBI between 2000 and 2010 holding 759 animals, only six are legal and functional now, and they collectively have 88 animals, including 41 dogs, two camels, eight horses, and 37 birds.

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