The previous rules only concerned certain wild animals.
Proposing a complete ban on the use of animals for spectacle or performances at any circus or mobile entertainment facilities, the Indian government has decided to expand rules for such practices.
Inviting suggestions and comments within a month, the Environment ministry put forth a draft notification dated November 28 prohibiting the exhibition or the training of animals, stating that “no animals shall be used for any performances or exhibition at any circus or mobile entertainment facility.”
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The draft notification further said: “In the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001, under rule 13, the following shall be added — 13A — 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 term “circus” was also defined 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” in the draft.
Animal rights activists have hailed the move as “progressive and laudable”, as the previous rules only concerned certain wild animals.
The ministry had prohibited the use of panthers, lions, bears, bulls, tigers and monkeys, reported the Times of India in 2011. This will change under the new notification, as all animals in circuses across the country will be banned.
Trustee, People for Animals, Gauri Maulekhi called the move “progressive and laudable step”. She said that they had 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.
She added, “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.”
Despite the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) taking note of the cruelty and de-recognising most circuses, implementation remained a challenge as there was no “clear-cut” and “comprehensive” order.
She informed that the Wildlife Protection Act is quite clear that Indian wild animals such as snakes, monkeys, parakeets are not allowed to be owned.
Manilal Valliyate, CEO, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India said that the government’s prioposed move, if implemented, would bring India at par with other countries and “show the world that India is a progressive, compassionate nation that does not tolerate animal abuse.”