Government advisory body calls for complete ban on animals in circuses

News outlets in India report a government advisory body has pitched for a complete ban on animals in circuses and suitable changes in legislation, saying the existing regulations are “unworkable” and ineffective in ending the “institutionalized cruelty” to animals.

The chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) wrote to the Ministry of Environment recommending a ban, while observing that as many as 11 circuses are performing in the country without mandatory permission.

“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,” wrote AWBI chairman M. Ravikumar.

The letter dated, June 6th, mentioned that according to available records, around 200 animals and birds are currently performing in circuses.

The AWBI has, since 2014, suspended the performing animals’ registration of 16 circuses and cancelled the registration of 10.

Ravikumar, in his letter, detailed the cruelty meted out to animals, including the regular use of banned tools like bull hooks on elephants, beating with sticks, whipping, poking with scrap metal rods, which he said has resulted in them showing “signs of physical and psychological trauma.”

The stocks of animals with circuses keeps changing repeatedly, without intimation to the AWBI, the letter said, which also mentions the death of animals and their use for illegal breeding and trade.

“It has been clearly shown that not only is the current regulatory framework unworkable, there are virtually no cases where circuses have met all required criteria for keeping animals. Further, a large number of circuses have been detected to be operating entirely without regulatory permits.

In view of the above, it is requested to consider the welfare of animals a priority and pass this strong legislation which is vital to end institutionalized cruelty to animals in circuses,” Ravikumar wrote.

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