The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) on Friday suspended the performing animal registration of The Jumbo Circus, which is currently on in Patiala. The action follows complaints of cruelty to animals and subsequent inquiry into the allegations.
Marking copies of the communiqué — a copy of which is with The Indian Express — to the said effect to state chief secretary, director general of police, chief wildlife warden, patiala deputy commissioner and patiala senior superintendent of police, the AWBI has asked the circus officials to stop exhibition of animals as an interim measure, pending inquiry. In case of non-compliance of the directions, the AWBI warned of legal action against the circus. The AWBI letter also stated that the circus did not send monthly reports of all performing animals and submit an “adequate corroboration” of having employed a full-time veterinarian.
The circus had come under scanner when during an inspection, Panipat SDM (Civil) had noted that a hippo with corneal opacity (less vision) and dogs with docked tails were being used at the performances. After receiving complaints regarding general upkeep and maintenance of the animals and cruelty to them during transportation and training, the board had appointed an inspecting officer to look into the matter.
It is learnt that in his report submitted to the board, Dr Sandeep Kumar Jain listed a number of irregularities. These included a horse Abas who was tied from both legs, another horse Deepak who as “sick and isolated”, a donkey Tunty was tied from both legs, three female camels tied in “open cold weather”, wings of a bird “clipped”, tails of dogs “docked” and hippopotamus Raja suffering from “chronic corneal opacity, who did not respond to the sight of food but only responded to the voice of keepers”.
Jain also pointed out in the report that while one elephant Lucky Prashad “did not belong to Jumbo Circus”, another was tied from both feet.When contacted, Jumbo Circus official R P Sharma, however, claimed that they were yet to receive the AWBI communiqué. “Dr Sandeep Jain had conducted an inspection. After taking all necessary steps to overcome the discrepancies pointed to us, the circus is now following all norms. We have already gifted away the dogs with docked tails. The hippo is no more performing. Only one leg of the animal is tied and likewise there is no irregularity in the circus now,” he added.