Baby boomers and Gen Xs may remember the fond memories of going to the circus to see elephants, lions, and bears do their tricks. Gone are those days and, now, new generations may never see such entertainment again. Animal activists say the industry has to close shop soon.
Animal advocates worldwide are crying “enough!” and are calling for a more compassionate world where animals must be treated more sensibly — without violence, pain, and suffering.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Australia lauds the landmark victories of UK and India, which announced the ban of exotic circus animals.
The UK Government recommended the total ban of wild animals in circuses by 2015, and further review on the classification of circus animals will continue. The government committee said wild animal circuses have become a sunset industry. PETA Australia said this “is a sure indicator that we’re moving closer to an end to the abuse of animals by cruel circuses around the globe.”
Earlier this year, PETA India and Animal Rahat released the results of a nine-month undercover investigation of more than a dozen circuses that travelled across India. PETA Australia described the findings as “shocking”.
Authorised by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), the investigation documented cruelty to elephants. According to the AWBI report, many of the circus operators kept elephants in lamentable conditions: almost constantly chained, routinely and violently abused with bull hooks and other weapons. The Board has produced photographs of animals with open wounds, eye and foot conditions, and other severe medical problems.
The report added that trainers were sometimes drunk while interacting with the animals, and none of the circuses had permanent full-time veterinarians present on the days of inspection as required by Indian law.
Following headlines of abuse around the world and pressure from animal rights groups, the AWBI confirmed it has “decided to stop registration of elephants for performance … in view of huge cruelties and abuse”. PETA India said this is a move that will effectively mean an end to the captivity of elephants in India’s circuses. It also indicate support for an eventual ban on the use of all animals in circuses in India.
The AWBI is now preparing to seize old and injured elephants named in PETA India’s report for possible rehabilitation.
“This tremendous victory for elephants in India – along with the recent British decision to ban all wild animals in circuses by 2015 – is a sure indicator that we’re moving closer to an end to the abuse of animals by cruel circuses around the globe,” PETA Australia said.
In Australia, there is a strong advocacy against entertainment animals, both nationwide and all across states. One of the studies on Australia’s performing arts industry also confirmed that traditional circuses are part of the dying nomadic settlers’ industry. “Australia’s last nomadic settler community and the only travelling entertainment continued its cultural role unabated for over 150 years”, the study said. However, it is time for the industry to give way to the rise of animal activism, as well as to the changes in financial, social and environmental conditions of the time.