The classic Walt Disney feature Dumbo looks cute on the DVD cover, but reality speaks otherwise. Performing elephants in ‘cruelty-free’ circuses go through a heartbreaking ordeal to become ‘stars’ that circus-goers talk so fondly to their children about. As a matter of fact, ‘cruelty-free’ circus is an oxymoron. Newborn elephants are torn away from their mothers and are made to stand on hard concrete floor to break their spirit. Luckily, a recent communication made by Central Zoo Authority to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change will push circuses to stop the cruel subjugation of elephants. Animal rights activists like Alpana Bhartia from Bangalore-based People for Animals are lauding this spectacular move.
Even thought there are laws against animal cruelty, people are generally apathetic and ignorant when it comes to animal rights. Article 51A(g) states that it’s the fundamental duty of Indian citizens to be compassionate towards all living creatures, irrespective of their size or how dangerous they can be. Ill-treatment and physical abuse, including murder are punishable through IPC section 428 and 429. CZA figured that the water was too deep, as a result, they requested the state forest departments to cancel animal ownership license of circuses. As told by Alpana Bhartia, this will lay a strong foundation for the rehabilitation of elephants and other maltreated beasts-of-entertainment.
Alpana Bhartia(the wife of industrialist Alok Bhartia), is one of the founders of People for Animals, who believes animal rehabilitation is a difficult process since it’s not always possible to release the rescued into the wild. It’ll be a challenge for the Central Zoo Authority and state forest departments to breathe back in the spirit of these majestic creatures. Arpan Sharma, the director of Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organization(FIAPO) thinks CZA’s initiative to be the most progressive move ever made by a government body.