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The use of monkeys, lions, tigers, panthers, and bears in performances is banned in India. It’s time to add elephants to that list.
Based on a comprehensive study regarding the use of elephants in circuses, festivals, and joy rides, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) issued an advisory recommending that the central government ban the training, exhibition, and use of elephants for performances.
Over the years, AWBI-authorised inspections of circuses and tourist attractions which use elephants have exposed the same disturbing scene: elephants are beaten into submission, denied proper veterinary care, commonly starved and dehydrated, forced to stand amid their faeces for long hours, and shackled when they’re not being forced to perform. They’ve also been observed suffering from visual impairment, swollen joints, gangrene of the tail, torn ears from sharp torture devices, foot rot, cracked nails, and obesity as a result of being chained for as long as 22 hours a day.
Many captive elephants show signs of severe psychological distress – such as swaying, head-bobbing, and weaving – behaviour not found in healthy elephants in nature.
Even though the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, prohibits capturing elephants, these sacred animals are torn away from their families in nature and beaten into submission. Most of the elephants in India are being held illegally, since their custody has been transferred without necessary approval from the forest departments or they’ve been transported to a different state, as revealed by AWBI inspections and the reports of state forest departments.
Elephants are highly social animals who spend their entire lives with their families in nature. They can walk up to nearly 50 kilometres per day to forage for food, work together to solve problems, and rely on the wisdom, judgement, and experience of their oldest relatives.
It’s time to give India’s heritage animal the same protections from performances as that afforded to other wild animals. You can help by signing the appeal below.