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Over 100 vets demand rules for prohibiting use of animals in circuses

New Delhi, Jan 5 (IANS) Prompted by the cruelty, pain and suffering endured by animals used in circuses, more than 100 veterinarians on Wednesday appealed to Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Minister Parshottam Rupala to notify rules that would prohibit the use of animals in circuses.

Draft rules regarding the same have been circulated in 2018 and havew since been languishing.

In their appeal, the veterinarians cited numerous reasons why circuses must be barred from using animals: In circuses, animals are in severe confinement, elephants are chained, horses and camels are almost tied constantly at one place, dogs are caged, animals are physically abused to perform unnatural tricks that wreak havoc on their bodies and minds, they pointed out.

"Whether it's lack of space and exercise, or lack of social contact, all factors combined show it's a poor quality of life compared with the wild. As the findings of the Animal Welfare Board of India inspections and other surveillance of Indian circuses have shown, all animals used by Indian circuses endure a poor quality of life," the appeal said.

The other examples cited by the veterinarians include how in Indian circuses, elephants are shackled for up to 24 hours a day when not performing and have to live almost immobile in their own waste, leading to painful and even fatal foot problems in captive elephants. In nature, elephants spend up to 75 per cent of their time feeding and cover up to 50 kilometres a day in the wild. Camels and horses exploited in circuses face a similar fate, being tied almost constantly at one place, which can lead to lameness.

"Birds' flight feathers are cut to prevent them from flying, and when not used, they and other animals, including dogs, are kept inside wire cages that can lead to injuries and sores," they pointed out.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India said it had approached the veterinarians on the issues. "These veterinarians know what's best for animals. PETA India joins these veterinarians in requesting (Minister) Parshottam Rupala Ji to enact the prohibition on the use of animals in circuses proposed by the central government," said PETA India CEO and veterinarian Dr Manilal Valliyate in a statement.

PETA India - whose motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to use for entertainment" - opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview.

In 2017 and 2019, the Animal Welfare Board of India, a statutory body established under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, advised the Central government to pass legislation prohibiting animals in circuses. And recently, the Central Zoo Authority cancelled its recognition of the Great Golden Circus, the only circus, which was still using protected wild animals - namely elephants - for performances.