Complete ban on use of animals in circuses

The Government advisory MoEFCC on November 30, 2018 has circulated its draft policy for comments from stakeholders about banning usage of all kinds of animals from circus owing to the hue and cry by animal activists as well as the Ministry’s finding of cruelty on animals.

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (‘the Ministry’) proposes to introduce Section 13A – prohibition on exhibiting and training of animals for specified performances, to the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001 which will bring in a complete ban on using any animal for the purpose of performances or exhibition at a circus or mobile entertainment facility and is set to come to force on December 30, 2018. In the next 1 month, the Ministry calls for suggestions from stakeholders.

The draft also suggested clear definition of “circus” by adding a new clause, stating that it “means 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, etc.”

The ban was brought in as an answer to the protests by animal activists against the cruel treatment of animals in the circus industry. A year long inspection and monitoring of circuses was conducted by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) of the Ministry who reported animals being forced to perform unnatural tricks, are housed in cramped cages, subjected to fear, hunger, pain, not to mention the undignified way of life they have to live, with no respite in circuses.

However, the owners have accused the inspection team of bias and making false allegations. Last year, some of the circus operators had moved the court against the CZA’s cancellation order of display of circus and also got relief. The court had set aside the agency’s notification and observed that there was violations of rules and CZA should conduct a re-examination which also observed that.

Takeaways:

  1. The approval of this ban will bring India in par with other countries like Guatemala, Honduras, Malta, Greece, Cyprus, etc, while many other countries like England and Sweden, etc. have a blanket ban on the use of wild animals.
     
  2. In 2011, the Ministry had banned the use of lions, tigers, panthers, monkeys, bears and bulls. These Rules will directly affect the circus industry which is an old form of entertainment already considered a dying trade. But, on the other hand, this will spare the animals from coercive training that they had to go through to please the human audience in various poses which are unnatural to animals.
     
  3. The cruel treatment of animals in circus currently violates Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001 as per People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) which has been asking for a complete ban of all animals being used.
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