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The Difference between Vigilantes and Animal Rights Activists

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Stories of acts of violence by Gau Rakshaks– in the name of non-violence towards animals (specifically cows) – have gripped the country. In the midst of the tragic death of a Muslim man by cow protection vigilantes and knee-jerk and poorly-planned schemes and laws to punish ill-treatment of cows, news also came in of individuals who beat up 3 Muslim men transporting buffaloes. Significant debate followed on whether they were animal rights activists or Gau Rakshaks. After all, each of us probably knows animal rights activists within our community who have stopped trucks and rescued cattle being transported illegally.
 
The waters are muddy – at least from the public’s point of view.
 
Yet, there is a sharp distinction. Animal rights are for all animals, for their intrinsic value and right to life, not to be seen as commodities that are to be used by human beings as food, or clothes, or entertainment. Gau Raksha, on the other hand, is an extremely narrow view which is speciesist (only bovine, specifically cows), sexist (cows not bulls) and motivated by religious beliefs. Not only is there a huge difference in ideology, but as a movement based in non-violence, we also completely disagree with the violent tactics adopted by Gau Rakshaks. But the waters are muddied and now genuine initiatives against cruel treatment meted out to cows taken up by animal rights activists are likely to be referred to as acts of vigilantism too. Even initiatives to promote vegetarian and vegan lifestyles are likely to be viewed as a part of the same spectrum of vigilantism, thus setting back the hard work of many hundreds of grassroots activists that run campaigns to reduce and end the consumption of animal products.
 
Rogue Gau Rakshaks are self-appointed, self-styled vigilantes, perpetrating violence and terror in the guise of animal rights activists. Not only are we completely opposed to such elements, we are shocked by their extremely narrow vision, invariably failing to serve even the cow protection cause in its entirety. What happens to the cows they rescue? They land in shelters that are equally pathetic for any animal and which do not have sufficient fodder, access to veterinary doctors and fail to provide even the basic minimum quality of life. Eventually, most of the cows die a miserable death. Why is the treatment of cows in dairies across India absent from their criticism? Why aren’t Gau Rakshaks vegan?
 
The lack of respect for the intrinsic value of animals marks the clear distinction between Gau Raksha vigilantism and Animal Rights Activism. We at FIAPO sincerely hope that there is strict action against the unlawful acts of these self-proclaimed ‘cow protectors’. And for those genuine animal rights activists who are caught in this storm, we stand by you. We will not allow Animal Rights activism, which stands strong on the fundamental respect to all lives, to become a conduit to further religious and political vested interests, locally, regionally or nationally!


Behind the Mortar Walls of Laboratories that Test on Dogs!!

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The little pup, hardly 6 months of age, struggled to pick himself up as he fell on the cold floor of his cage in the laboratory, for the umpteenth time. Once again he tried to stand on his frail paws but only to fall as a fresh bout of seizures threw him uncontrollably against the walls of the metal cage- leaving him injured and bleeding. He was screaming in anguish, visibly writhing in pain as the poison of the pesticide fed to him was slowly destroying his brain- but the little one was fully alive and yes – he will not die. Masked faces with gloved hands watched this defenceless little pup, who just a few days ago was bliss fully running in circles playing with his mother and siblings. They nodded in agreement that this surely was the “Maximum Tolerated Dose” (MTD) for the pesticide that the puppy can with stand. The dose at which the animal shows close to fatal signs – the dose at which the animal will suffer excruciating pain but will not die.
Based on the Maximum Tolerated Dose (MTD) for each test substance, acute, sub- acute sub- chronic and chronic studies (7 days, 28 days, 90 days, 180 days and even one year studies) are conducted on dogs even before they are one year old.

Dogs used in toxicity testing die when they are forced to inhale toxic fumes of the test substance or when they succumb to the drug / agrochemical (chemicals which are in reality just poisons used to kill weeds, insects, fungi, etc.) force fed to them. Yet others linger on in sub- chronic and chronic tests as their bodies’ battle the poison of the test substance given in low doses for months on end. Helpless and defenceless, with no relief from the bitter pain, they are forced to endure, they cower on the cold floor in laboratories, cringing in fear for the next dose to come. For weeks and months on end they will writhe in pain with bleeding stomach ulcers, breaking into bouts of repeated convulsions and seizures that throw them uncontrollably against the metal cages as the poison destroys their bodies and minds. Slowly and surely they will turn yellow with jaundice and bodies turn moribund as their livers cease to function. Yet, some linger fighting death but only to be killed at the end of the study and their frail bodies are autopsied. In non-terminal called ‘pharmaco –kinetic’ studies dogs are tested hundreds of times over until they die in sheer agony of being used over and over again or killed as they are “no more fit’ to be used in more experiments.

Dogs have been used in toxicity testing more as a matter of convenience than on a scientific basis. The soundness of the dog model to predict ‘toxicity levels in human beings’ and the ethics of using the dog – a social and sentient vertebrate – has remained unchallenged for over half a century even though there has been evidence to the contrary.

In the late 1990’s scientists demonstrated that dogs were not required for the prediction of safe doses for humans. The well-known scientific basis for this failure is because most canine Cytochrome P450 Enzymes (CYPs)—the major enzymes involved in drug metabolism are different to those in humans and hence extrapolating toxicity data between species ( dogs to humans) is unrealistic and futile.

However, the decadence of using dogs in toxicity testing has gone on far too long and has been far too deeply engrained in regulatory guidelines, both international and national, rendering this practice a false halo of being a ‘scientific need for the cause of human welfare and health’. This has created a seemingly formidable wall between truth and reality- deterring every right-thinking citizen and the tax payer from opposing this cruel practice.

Besides the unrelenting cruelty in testing in itself, the use of dogs as a laboratory animal has provided a fertile ground for a prolific multi- billion dollar beagle breeding business the USA, UK and China. These dogs born in claustrophobic puppy mills would never know the warmth of sunshine or human touch, are born only to suffer and die in laboratories. They are shipped across continents as cargo for weeks on end, stashed in cages only to be tested on even before they reach 9 months of age.

Every pet dog owner will vouch that dogs are perceptive, cognitive, intuitive and capable of positive emotions of love and empathy. The laboratory beagles is no different from your pet dog at home. Imagine your dear pet dog being caged for life and fed a poison slowly until the poison robs him of his very health and finally kills him. Would you watch this in silence?

Noted canine researcher and psychologist Stanley Coren surmises that based on several behavioural measures, a dogs’ mental abilities are close to a human child in the age of 2 to 2.5 years. Yes, the dog – “Man’s best friend” – is no less than a human child. Not surprisingly so.

As we face this realty of millions of dogs needlessly suffering and dying in labs, let us pledge today that their cries will NOT go unheard anymore and their suffering will NOT go unseen anymore. Join the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) by filling out this form- http://bit.ly/CPCSEANominee

To join the “Sound of Silence Campaign” -to say “NO” to the use of dogs in testing go to http://chn.ge/2aG3rtB

Shiranee Pereira

About the author – Dr. Shiranee Pereira worked with the ICAR, GOI as senior scientist for 22 years and is the Co- Founder of People for Animals, Chennai. She has been associated with the CPCSEA, since 2000 both as Expert Consultant and as a member of the national committee. During her tenure with the CPCSEA, she was instrumental in bringing out national guidelines that limits re-use and mandates the rehabilitation of equines and dogs used in laboratories .She initiated in 2007 the national campaign to stop the use of animals in dissection, which resulted In the ban in use of animals in biological sciences in 2012 saving more than 18,000 animals annually. For the very first time in India, she introduced the science of alternatives to the use of animals in research /testing, with a national conference on alternatives in 2002 in New Delhi. She founded the Mahatma Gandhi Doerenkamp Centre (MGDC) for the use of alternatives to animals in research and education in 2009 in Bharathidasan University, Tiruchi– which in 2016 has been declared as the National Centre for Alternatives to Animal Use under the University Grants Commission.


Situating Animal Rights in the UP Conundrum

Years and years of plight for the innumerable cows, buffaloes and other animals in the ILLEGAL slaughter houses panned across the country seems to have taken a centre stage with sudden crackdowns, with Uttar Pradesh electing Adityanath Yogi as the CM. Within hours of his appointment, illegal abattoirs were being shut down in the state. What animal rights activists have been fighting for years and years, happened in a matter of hours! The aftermath? Meat sellers in Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s largest meat-producing states, decide to go on an indefinite strike. Even the registered ones (about 41 of them) are feeling the heat because of supply shortage and fear of action by government agencies. They are worried about the impact of this sudden move on their livelihood and their uncertain future. Even the chicken, fish sellers have joined the strike.

This move calls for a more in-depth analysis on what it means for the animals in our country, and more importantly, distinguish politics and religion from the fates of millions of sentient beings who are incoherent of these human derived concepts. FIAPO firmly believes that animal suffering needs to come to an end in recognition of their rights and not let politics or religion dominate the fate of animals. Else, once animals have served their need in the political jigsaw, the exploitation and abuse will continue – and we in the animal rights movement will continue to rue “politics” and “politicians”.

We are rejoicing that with the shutting down of slaughter houses, thousands of animals will live to see another day. That the issue of illegal slaughter has been brought center-stage. That today, animals are at least a part of the conversation. But are animals truly a part of the conversation? But do animals matter, or is the agenda – again – being dominated by religion and communities? Are animals mere pawns in a political game? The intrinsic value of animals continues to be ignored – slaughter houses need to close because animals have rights, because animals aren’t a commodity, and animals are certainly not food. When the rights of animals are recognized, that’s when we’ll be celebrating the closing of slaughterhouses. Not today. Not yet.


The Directory of Over 280 Animal Rights Organisations in India

If you are reading this, chances are, that you are already associated with the Indian Animal Rights Community and hence would understand the importance of connecting within the community one another at good times and bad. Some of the most successful people in world history have passed on their wisdom on the importance of this one word- NETWORKING.

But networking can be hard, when we don’t know each other! In FIAPO’s attempt to bring together a platform to help us connect, enriching self through collaborative learning and experiences, I am delighted to present to you the directory of animal rights organisations in India – its first draft is available here- http://www.fiapo.org/our-network/our-members and we will keep growing and adding to it as we come across more NGOs.

By means of action, FIAPO is constantly engaging with stakeholders collaboratively or confrontationally through research, lobbying and education. We work with, and build the movement through networking, training, direct action and mobilisation. Created for the movement, by the movement, we now have over 80 members and over 200 supporter organisations on board, across the country.

Some organisations are animal rescue centers, some have a humane education emphasis; some are experienced and some are newly-established, but each share in common the desire to reduce and end animal suffering at all levels—from street dogs to dairy cows; from wildlife protection to saving marine animals; from zoos and circuses to animals used in laboratory experiments.

I’d like to take this opportunity to invite more animal rights organisations working primarily for animal rights in India and join the NGO-network of animal rights workers, activists, supporters, advocates, campaigners for the rights of animals in India- http://www.fiapo.org/apply-for-membership/

If you believe in justice for animals, add your voice to the growing movement!

Regards,
Varda Mehrotra,
Director,
Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisation (FIAPO)
www.fiapo.org


FIAPO and the Tale of the Cat-astrophic Science Experiment for Young School Children!

It is only recently, that I have started working in the animal protection domain, but the work I do and the impact it creates often leaves me spell-bound. Sometimes, things that spell ‘cruelty’, might seem small and we may even miss them but the impact they could have on those around us something to be extremely weary off.

Recently, I came across one such incident where an environmental studies textbook was asking students to conduct a fatal experiment on cats. Imagine, asking children as young as 9 to suffocate a kitten on the pretext of an experiment to understand the importance of breathing! while, animal rights activists, parents, media and even celebrities, unanimously roared with dissent, my biggest concern was how can we get this removed as soon as possible and how come people had failed to notice it?

Naturally, I too was appalled at the situation and immediately reached out to my fellow animal rights activists to seek their guidance on what can be done. We had to take some action and fast! So, we reached out to the publication house- PP Publications to remove the illegal (and unethical) content advocating for the cruel experiment on kittens.

With the exchange of a few phone calls and emails with the publishing house, we guided them on the laws of the land around animal rights and why the content shared was unlawful (and not to mention, utterly unethical!). We informed them on how killing of an animal is illegal and being cruel to animals is and as defined under Section 11 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Cruelty or killing is a cognizable offence under Section 428 and Section 429 of the Indian Penal Code.

After waiting for what seemed like days and many more discussions later, the publication agreed to the absurdity and apologised for the misleading content with a written regret, committing to the following:

  • Immediate withdrawal of the publication from the distributors
  • To not sell from the existing stock
  • Not reprint the same content for the next academic year
  • To be mindful of things published about animals, especially something unethical and illegal and be regardful of people’s sentiments

You can read the full letter here (http://www.fiapo.org/newsandevents/letter-from-p-p-publications)

As a part of the unanimous voice for animal rights in India, I believe in the sanctity of respecting all life forms, and strongly believe that the seeds of compassion be planted in young minds, early on in childhood. Hence, with utter humility, I request all you parents, teachers, institutions, corporates and everybody else, to please be mindful of any such discrepancies in our educational bodies, immediately take action against anyone violating the laws and spread awareness about the same to your friends, family and network, so that situations likes these can be avoided in future. Remember, it is the moral duty of each one of us to stand up and speak against what we believe is wrong. While, things may look too straitjacketed or difficult to change, we still must fight for what we believe in!

You can visit www.fileanfir.fiapo.org for more information on the animal protection laws of India.

At the end, I’d like to close with my favourite quote-

“Compassion is the basis of morality.” ― Arthur Schopenhauer

 


State-wide Dairy Investigation Reveals Unparalleled Cruelty to Cattle

Jaipur (27th June, 16) :In the most unabashed and radical revelation of the facts about the state’s treatment of its holy cow, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) released an investigative report today, which shows the inhumane and torturous conditions in which cattle are kept in dairies across the state for milk production.

The report was released to statewide media on Monday by Dr. D.R. Mehta, Founder Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti(BMVSS) and a Trustee of FIAPO and by Mrs. Timmie Kumar, Ambassador, FIAPO.

FIAPO’s investigation in 49 dairies across four cities of Rajasthan revealed the indiscriminate use of banned and illegal drugs such as Oxytocin for increasing and releasing unnatural quantities of milk; lack of basic infrastructure, food and veterinary care for cattle as well as illegal sale of calves for slaughter.

It further reported that only 57% of cattle owners call for veterinary assistance only in the event of a fall in production of milk, and not for addressing any animal health concerns like wounds, , fractures or infections. A staggering 87% of cattle are kept tied all the time in unhealthy and unhygienic conditions in a dairy, covered in their own excreta, and often suffering from injuries and fractures. These findings are in outright violation of existent laws, guidelines and rules meant for the protection of animal interests.

Says Timmie Kumar, “Rajasthan is a prosperous state and we have always been shown images of happy cows on dairy products. But going by the facts revealed from our investigation that image is nothing but a façade to a lifetime of abuse and exploitation. As citizens of Vibrant Rajasthan, we really need to improve our treatment of the cattle to at least be acceptable and humane”.

D.R Mehta appealed to the government to take immediate action. “This calls for an urgent and strict implementation of the existing laws of animal welfare and addition of better rules in areas that are not covered by the existing laws. We have formulated a Dairy Code, which should be used as the guiding document to impose minimum standards for humane treatment of dairy cattle. The inclusion of dairy businesses as major food production establishments and their regulation under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 will also improve the standards used for the process of milking. Our report and letter has been shared with the Ministry of Agriculture with an appeal to act immediately to take action against dairies violating laws and ensure minimum standards of welfare among cattle”


The Vermin Annihilation- Is Culling the Answer or the Question?

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Story So Far-

A couple of months ago, The Ministry of environment, forests and climate change asked the states to submit applications for declaring species as vermin; species that were causing harm to crops, property or human life. States have since put to use multiple sections under the Wildlife Protection Act and allowed culling of select species. A campaign has been in place since few months; letters sent, RTIs filed, articles published, matter taken to court and discussions held. The recent killing in Bihar and subsequent media coverage have not only highlighted the issue but also raised further questions.

Underlying Question-

Are the farmers asking for culling? While the intensity and nature of this conflict varies from landscape to landscape the bottom line is that the famers are suffering from damage caused by wildlife. However, these farmers are asking for a solution to the problem and not for culling. As no other alternatives have been put forth, the easiest option today appears to be to cull. The decision makers and influencers (including conservationists and researchers) have failed to come up with policy issues to address the conflict in the long run and suggest models that could be tried out as pilots in the short run. Conservation organizations have been largely silent on the issue. Is it unwillingness to take a stand on a complicated topic or case of having other priorities or lack of sufficient awareness on the issue? A member of Bihar State Board for Wildlife stated how the state government had written to large conservation organizations for assistance on the topic couple of years ago. Each of these organizations that receive major chunk of their funding for tiger, and other charismatic species, had either raised their proverbial hands and expressed inability to act then or not replied on this issue of herbivores conflict; an issue that today has resulted in culling of large number of tiger prey. Lack of research on the topic is overt; research that feeds into policy and helps shape future actions as opposed to research that results in publications or fuels academic debates at conferences.

The Hunters enter the Picture-

Is this driven by the hunter lobby? How is it that a group of ‘happy to pose with guns’ people gallivant across the country, hunt animals, and then proclaim to be conservationists? That they are well connected with those in power is apparent from the fact that they have been invited from as far as Hyderabad to Shivpuri; the district with one of the highest gun licenses in the country. In Maharashtra – where culling is allowed in select districts – the killings by this group stopped after the chief wildlife warden publicly expressed his disagreement and displeasure in the manner in which they were taking place. In Telangana – where hunting has been permitted across the state – a list of people sanctioned to shoot is in place and the forest department staffs have been directed to assist them (stay in forest guest houses and local transport). Most of these people are members of the Indian Rifles Association and at-least one also an accused in a hunting case in the state. They also tried to bribe the lawyer representing the individual who had filed the PIL against the government order!

Are we saying that wildlife needs to be confined to protected areas and reserve forests? Protected areas which themselves have not been drawn based on conservation needs and reserve forests – large chunks of which have been either degraded or severely damaged by development infrastructure or have simply disappeared. To add fuel to the fire we continue to lose our common lands to market forces and make major changes to our cropping patterns; both of which further shrink the available habitat for wildlife in village lands. Our actions have ensured that carnivores like jackals and wolves that were not uncommon even two decades ago are today missing from our village lands, and we now want to use the pretext of their absence (lack of natural population control measures!) to remove the herbivores from these landscapes!

Qualification of ‘Vermin’ as Per Our Policies

A species can be declared vermin under section 62 of the wildlife protection act; in other words the species moves to schedule 5 of the act and loses protection.

What is the process that is to be followed before a species is declared vermin thus?

Can a state send a request to the centre based on few applications it receives or is it mandatory for the state to have carried out surveys and consultations to understand the situation? Should the state try out mitigation measures before writing to the Centre? Replies to RTI applications, on the topic, have brought forth that most the states have neither taken up any survey prior to sending request to Centre and nor do they have in place a strategy document to address the human wildlife conflict. The Goa Forest Minister is on record stating that they have taken up surveys and based on the findings will send a request to the Centre for declaring species vermin. RTI reply from the state talks otherwise. This is the very minister who had earlier stated that peacock and gaur will be declared vermin in the state!

Where does this culling stop?

The permitted culling of the number of species may soon make their way to this existing list. In context of the recent killing in Bihar, is there a thresh hold after which we say that the conflict is now at an acceptable level? In other words do we want to understand and remove the problem or do we want to remove the species? For this do we also need to be aware to the numbers (close approximations) of these species in different landscapes?

The situation is complex and one that warrants time and attention from multiple stake holders. There are no solutions available that could be placed in bullet points; if they were we would not be reading this today. This could be the last opportunity we have to move beyond our comfort and ego zones and get our acts together for landscape based wildlife conservation or the first step to reducing our protected areas to enlarged glorified zoos.

 

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This is a post by Nimesh Ved, who works with FIAPO on the #NotVermin campaign. The story was posted on scroll, you can check that out here: http://scroll.in/article/809865/the-debate-over-the-culling-of-wildlife-in-india-requires-more-than-just-sound-and-fury

Check out Nimesh’s blog at  http://nimesh-ved.blogspot.in/


Bloodsport,not culture|Jallikattu

“The tendency to turn human judgements into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world.”

Georgia Harkness

Hoards of spectators huddle together, with expectant eyes and yearning hearts – there’s a taste of celebration in the air – in an uproar of festivities, an infuriated bull is unleashed – visibly agonized, he tries to run amuck – and is madly chased by villagers, trying to hold on to its horns for as long as possible. In this ‘sport’ of bull-taming he’s is punched, jumped on, goaded, poked and dragged to the ground.
Bloodshed on both sides in inevitable.

A 4000 year old bloodsport, Jallikattu perpetuates violence in the guise of tradition.

Although there is a national ban in India against using bulls in entertainment, the state government chooses to turn a blind eye to national law and instead clings to the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act No. 27 of 2009, a state law permitting Jallikattu. While promising the enforcements of regulations, the Act looks at piecemeal changes such as ensuring barricading and limiting numbers. Thus, the cruelty that is inherent in Jallikattu, has no solution, other than a blanket ban on the practice.

Recently, Catalonia become Spain’s first mainland region to ban the centuries-old bullfighting. The Parliament of Catalonia voted against the traditional sport following a petition signed by thousands of people who say the practice is barbaric, outdated and cruelty to animals.

The populace of India is already against such archaic and barbaric ‘bull taming’ sports. If Catalonia can ban bull fighting, so can we. Culture and tradition in itself are changing entities, let them evolve to cater to the needs of the hour.


New beginnings in Varanasi…

For over a year now, FIAPO has been running an intensive rescue and first-aid programme in Varanasi. The programme created a community that relies on the compassion and activism of the individuals of Varanasi, who in time, are creating a strong movement for animal protection.

Today, the programme has expanded beyond the Ghats, and the seeds that were sown the year round, are now bearing fruit. Here are a few stories of Varanasi leaders who’ve stepped up to protect animals

Dr. Soumya, Benares Hindu University: A doctor by profession, Soumya was always keen on helping animals.  Ever since she met with the FIAPO team in Varanasi, she’s started pursuing fir1st-aid with greater gusto! She now spares time thrice a week carrying out First-aid at the Benares Hindu University. She is supported by her ardent volunteers who are steadily growing in number! While she teaches at BHU- she extends her help to the animals close to her home, at Sundarpur, Varanasi too!

Swati and Smita, Sikrol (Cantt Area): Forming quite the power team, Swati and Smita help all animals in every way possible. The duo have also started their own organisation in Varanasi that goes by the name of RAHAT. Apart from first –aid, rescue and community mobilisation near the Cantt area, they also provide food for animals at the Sarnath Zoo close by. While understanding the short term needs of animals, they also believe that for a truly successful movement, awareness is key- and spend considerable time reaching out to the public with2 a message of kindness and compassion.

Dr. Mangesh, Rath Yatra Road:  A doctor and an avid animal lover, Dr. Mangesh has since long been involved in first aid for animals. He now ensures that each Sunday is a day to practice first aid and follows through on all cases he encounters. His recent success story is that of an accident case in which the dog was run hit by a car. After providing basic first aid, he ensured proper care and consultation by taking the dog to the Veterinary Government Hospital. The pooch is now in recovery and is showing wonderful progress!

While these new developments take place, our ongoing work at the Ghats continues – thanks to Amit, our first-aid expert, and Pushparag – a professional energy therapist. Their regular work at the Ghats ensures that the dogs there lead happy, healthy lives!

 


Animals should not be considered property, and should not be “owned”

By Prashanth V. 

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Far from natural habitats, elephants in confinement are often tied all the time, with little access to food or water.

Picture a herd of elephants. There’s a young one, with naughty eyes, surrounded by the rest of the family – mother, father, aunts, uncles, cousins. Elephants are very intelligent and perceptive. They are usually peace-loving, gentle creatures.

Though most of their numbers have been decimated by the brutal ivory trade, they have also been depleted by their capture for use as pack animals and circus performers. In captivity they are traditionally chained at all times, or controlled by the vicious ‘ankur’, whose spikes are delivered as blows to punish and control these giant and desperate victims.

Can you imagine being cooped up in a tiny room, with barely enough room to sit without your head bumping the roof? Can you imagine being fed dry, stale food and little water? This is the life of circus elephants round the clock. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there for animals that are kept captive in circuses. They must learn and perform complicated actions that are designed to amuse us. They must do a variety of things they would never do in the wild, on punishment of the ankur. All so that we can stand up, clap, point and smile.

What gives us the right to exploit other creatures like this?

We humans boast of our great intelligence. We have built ourselves cities, and armed ourselves with technology. And yet, it seems that we cannot grasp this simple concept that animals do not belong to us, and never will.

What we should be doing is ensuring that they are cared for, in their natural habitats. As the so-called smartest species on the planet, we should know better than to do what we do to them. These animals never consented to living their lives out as puppets in circuses and they never had a choice. We never stopped for a moment to think about how unnatural it was to see a lion jump through a ring of fire. How did he learn to do that? He certainly didn’t understand what the trainer wanted him to do right away, did he? Think about how many times he must have failed. Think about all the punishments and suffering that must have taken place for him to get the message and that he had to leap through the ring of fire. Missed meals, injuries, terror and incredible mental stress don’t even begin to cover it.

Please don’t encourage animal abuse, anywhere. Remember, they feel pain just like we do, and we have no right to inflict pain and suffering on animals.

Circuses are happy places for us. Let’s strive to make them happy places for animals too by making sure they are very far away from the stage.