India weighs circus ban

India said it is considering a ban on the use of all animals as circus acts following accusations from activists that the creatures were abused and neglected behind the curtains.

The ban was recommended by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), an advisory organization, after a nine-month investigation of the country’s 16 circuses.

Animal rights group said they discovered circus animals, such as elephants and horses, in miserable conditions.

“Everyone enjoys the circus, but nobody sees what’s happening behind the show, the horrible treatment to the animals or how they are kept,” AWBI secretary S. Umarani said.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Animal Rahat (Animal Relief) said they found evidence that animals were hit with sticks with iron hooks and shackled for long periods.

Many of the animals were forced to perform despite being partially blind and injured, PETA added.

“Tricks are not natural to animals. They are beaten and punished for it,” director of veterinary affairs at PETA India, Manilal Valliyate, said.

Wild and endangered animals, including bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and lions, are already banned from Indian circuses. Elephants are still widely used in circuses despite a ban in 2009, activists said.

The latest proposal will place a complete ban on animals being forced to perform tricks for the circus.

“We need to bring in the right legislation to stop this cruelty. That’s why the board has recommended a total ban,” Umarani said.

Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures/Flickr

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