A day after the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) banned circuses from using wild animals owing to the poor treatment being meted out to the beasts, circus owners cried foul on what they called an ‘unfair’ decision.
“We earn our living with the help of these animals. Why would we ill-treat them?” said a member of Ajanta circus. He said that even though he could not vouch for how animals were being treated in other circus companies, the ones under him were well taken care of.
“Officials are most welcome to conduct random checks on my animals to check if they are healthy. To accuse us of not treating them right is unfair,” he added.
A member of Empire Circus pointed out that following all the guidelines set by the central authority was impossible as it mandates that wild animals be kept in enclosures that resemble their natural habitat. “How are we going to recreate a forest for the elephants we have? For a circus that tours the country, such measures are impossible to follow,” he said.
On the CZA’s move to ban the use of wild animals, a source from Ajanta circus said, “If we give away our elephants and other exotic animals, who will come to watch our shows?” Another member of the circus said that while the authority has been demanding that the circus animals be checked by specialists, there are none available in the area and the officials know that.
“We have three elephants in our circus but there are no elephant specialists in West Bengal and the officials have acknowledged this,” he said. He added that they have not received any official notices regarding the cancellation of their registration yet. “We will decide on our next step only after we receive the CZA’s notice,” he added.
The decision came in the wake of an investigative report by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO).
“The conditions in which animals were kept were far below recommended standards,” said DN Singh, CZA head. Accordingly, he CZA on Wednesday cancelled the registration of 21 circuses across the country.