As many as 50 members of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Mumbai, and the Society of Prevention to Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Amritsar, on Tuesday protested in front of the ongoing Great Apollo Circus at Ranjeet Avenue Grounds here against the use of animals and birds.
Barely thirty minutes before the maiden show of the day, members of both the organisations thronged the main entry gate of the circus with an activist wearing an elephant costume and was spotted with shackles of chains, and other activists holding boards that clearly underlined the aim of their demonstration: 'Say no to circuses that use animals and birds, which face cruelties at the circuses. However, notwithstanding the demonstration, the show started unaffected.
"Animals at circus are routinely chained, beaten and denied all those things which are natural and important to them for their wellbeing. The animals are treated like slaves,"lamented Grishma Myatra, a PETA official from the Mumbai branch.
She further deplored: "The latest investigation report of the PETA, where 16 Indian circuses were inspected between November 2012 and July 2013, revealed that many animals were forced to perform despite they were sick and injured."
Myatra also shared with Hindustan Times some details of the investigation report, which was successful in highlighting plight of animals and birds at circuses.
The PETA report reveals - animals forced to perform arduous tasks, abused physically, no permanent veterinarians employed for them, transported even if unfit or pregnant; the mode of transportation highly inhumane, use of elderly animals, horrendous confinement methods (inhuman housing), insufficient proper shelter, poor quality feed and at times lack of food and water.
The report is buttressed by many examples and pictures, sufficient to make anyone emotional. In other words, the animals are used by various circuses flaunting the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
During the demonstration, the heads of both organisations approached the circus management to show them the area where animals and birds were kept. The manager, Arvind Pathak, and his assistant Bhadur Singh showcased them those areas, where an HT team also accompanied them.
During the inspection, it was found that the story there was no different from what was presented in the report. A horse was spotted wounded (leg injury), parrots were kept in a small cage, which was very filthy, dogs were tied tightly with ropes and elephants were confined with chains.
The circus manager, however, maintained: "We keep all animals and birds like our children. Our training methods are not harsh and we give them proper feed."
When the manager was questioned about the injured horse, he answered the horse would not be performing till he gets fully fit. In fact, the manager also submitted a written letter to the organisations' heads stating that if any injured animal was found performing the circus, the management would have to face severe consequences under various Acts concerning animals' welfare.
Excerpts from the PETA report
* A dog is forced to jump through the ring set on fire at Jamuna Circus in violation of the laws
* Numerous animals have died as a result of insufficient veterinary care. Animals are forced to perform despite injuries. Rajkamal Circus' dog 'Marshall' was forced to perform in several shows despite a wound on his leg
* In 2012, Rambo Circus' bitch 'Moti' delivered seven puppies while she was being transported.
* Visually-impaired elephant 'Paruh' was forced to perform show after show in SAM Circus
* The transportation method of animals and birds is inhumane, as they are simply thrown away in their cages along with other circus equipment, and in most cases there is no food and water available to them throughout their journey.