Congratulations are in order for our friends over at PETA India today! After a nine-month-long investigation of circuses across the country revealed widespread cruelty, the Animal Welfare Board of India has just decided to end the registration of elephants for performances – effectively putting a stop to the suffering of circus elephants.
PETA India’s investigation of 15 circuses documented rampant apparent violations of animal-welfare laws, including animals dying from inadequate care, mysteriously “going missing”, denied veterinary care for injuries and being handled by drunken staff members. Elephants – who roam over vast spaces in the wild and live in complex matriarchal societies – may be snatched from their homes for circuses and forced to spend their lives in chains, in fear of being hit and jabbed. Nail-studded sticks and ankuses (metal hooks with sharp, spear-like ends) are some of the weapons typically used to “train” elephants, causing pain, bruises and bloody wounds to the animals’ bodies.
Bollywood star John Abraham was one of many people who got behind the campaign to end this abuse. In a letter to the Indian government, he wrote, “Unlike human performers, animals are forced to entertain through the use of fear, pain or hunger”, and urged officials to make the compassionate choice. Shilpa Shetty, Vijender Singh and Wayne Parnell are just some of the other high-profile people who spoke out for elephants who were being forced to perform.
This news is a fantastic achievement, but PETA India won’t be resting on its laurels. It’s now calling on authorities to take the next logical step forward by banning the use of all animals in circuses – because only willing human performers belong in the entertainment industry. Austria, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus and Greece already have laws against using animals in circuses.
In England and Wales, compassionate people are looking forward to celebrating the imminent ban on the use of all wild animals in circuses. After concerted pressure from animal-protection groups, including many PETA supporters, the government has promised that the ban will come into force in 2015, sparing elephants, camels, zebras, raccoons and reindeer a life of misery, imprisonment, beatings and distressing performances. Video.