By Astha Saxena
Elephant tricks may soon vanish from Indian circus rings if Delhi-based NGO Wildlife SOS has its way.
After eradicating the brutal and old practice of ‘dancing bears’, the organisation, in partnership with the government, is all set to rescue 67 elephants from circuses across the country.
In its first move, the NGO will rescue a female elephant, Suzy, who is in urgent need of veterinary care. At present, she is “forced to perform tricks even though her health condition is deteriorating”, allege animal rights advocates.
According to Wildlife SOS, Suzy is mentally and physically ill owing to lack of proper medical care.
Project Members of the NGO have already identified 17 circus elephants and planned to rescue them in the first phase of the project.
In July 2014, Wildlife SOS rescued Raju, an elephant who had been severely mistreated and kept in spiked chains for around 50 years.
“Suzy is blind. She is forced to live in an unkempt place, which is filled with dung and urine, for days. Her dental health is severely compromised as indicated by undigested food in her dung. We were shocked to see her pathetic condition,” said Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS.
The NGO is also launching a fundraising campaign in the first phase of the project to cover the costs of investigation, rescue process, transport, legal aid and new shelters for the elephants.
“And with the help of caring people across the world and the government’s cooperation, Suzy along with more than a dozen elephants will be rescued from the gloomy circus life in 2015,” Seshamani said.
The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) had earlier issued show-cause notices to circuses that were found flouting norms by not implementing proper facilities for animal care. Lack of welfare for elephants has also been documented.
“Despite the ban on performance by elephants in circuses, pachyderms are forced to perform, beaten up and chained up. The circus owners have failed to take proper care of their animals. Animals used in Indian circuses endure a lifetime of slavery and misery,” said an AWBI official.
The activists also allege that elephants are often kept shackled by all four legs, even if they are not performing.
“Elephants are confined to cramped and unhygienic spaces, in which they defecate, urinate, eat, drink and sleep,” the official added.