Centre proposes ban on animals in circuses; animal rights activists call move 'progressive and laudable'
The Environment Ministry has invited comments from various stakeholders on the issue of use of animals for performances, exhibitions at any circus or mobile entertainment facilities, within 30 days.
New Delhi: The Centre has proposed a prohibition on the use of animals for performances, exhibitions at any circus or mobile entertainment facilities. The move was hailed by animal rights activists as "progressive and laudable".
The Environment Ministry, in a draft notification dated 28 November, has invited comments from various stakeholders on the issue within 30 days. "In the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001, under rule 13, the following shall be added — 13A — the prohibition on exhibiting and training of animals for specified performances. No animals shall be used for any performances or exhibition at any circus or mobile entertainment facility," the draft notification said.
The draft also defined "circus" as "means of a large public entertainment, typically presented in one or more very large tents or in an outdoor or indoor arena, featuring exhibitions of pageantry, feats of skill and daring, performing animals, among others."
Hailing the move, the trustee of People for Animals, Gauri Maulekhi said prohibiting the use of animals for circuses and other mobile entertainment is an extremely "progressive and laudable step".
"We established deplorable conditions of horses, dogs, exotic species of parrots, elephants, hippopotamus etc in all circuses over many years. The Central Zoo Authority withdrew recognition for use of all elephants in circuses.
"No other Indian wild animal was allowed to be used anyway. However, hippos, macaws, cockatoos etc which are exotic wild species were being smuggled in for unnatural performances in circuses, despite CITES — Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora — restrictions," she said.
The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) also took note of the cruelty and de-recognised most circuses, but the implementation was a challenge in the absence of a clear-cut and comprehensive order, she added. "People for Animals requested the Environment Ministry repeatedly for an amendment in the Rules to put an end to the abuse of animals for unnatural performances in circuses and cruelty in the name of entertainment.
"After giving several chances to the circus operators, this change is progressive and inevitable," she pointed out.
She added that Indian wild animals such as snakes, monkeys, parakeets are not allowed to be owned, traded in or performed anyway under the Wildlife Protection Act.
Manilal Valliyate, CEO, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India said it is high time for it to be recognised that intelligent and sensitive animals are not ours to enslave and torment in animal-exploiting circuses for our amusement. "A ban on the use of animals in circuses would bring India in line with other countries that have already made this move and show the world that India is a progressive, compassionate nation that does not tolerate animal abuse," Valliyate said.
On a day the Karnataka Assembly passed a bill to legalise traditional buffalo race Kambala, animal rights body Peta on Monday said allowing this "cruelty" to be afflicted on animals is "shameful" and leaves a "black mark" on India.
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