After several inspections, the Central Zoo Authority last month cancelled recognition of the ‘Great Golden Circus’ in Kharghar for allegedly mistreating animals. The circus was permitted to appeal against the order and a date for the hearing is awaited. The Great Golden Circus, a moving circus, has been staging performances in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai over the past few months. The group’s last show concluded on January 16 in Kharghar, where it was set up since the second week of December.
After receiving multiple complaints about the standards maintained by the circus, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) deputed a team in July 2016 to evaluate the circus. The team submitted its finding in August last year. Based on the report, the body then on December 7 passed an order cancelling the recognition for the circus’s ‘captive animal facility’ as ‘zoo’, further stating that “gross violations of the Recognition of Zoo Rules, 2009 and CZA guidelines” had been noted.
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“From the evaluation report, it has been observed that elephants have not been properly kept and cared as per the guidelines issued in the interest of the animals,” the remarks in the CZA order read. Some of the violations in the report included elephants found tied on two legs with padding insufficient to only one leg; elephants with overgrown cuticle and toe nails indicative of poor foot care; thinning and flattening of elephants’ sole; one female elephant was found highly obese. The circus’s reply, according to the CZA order, was that adequate padding was provided and a doctor was appointed to take care of the elephant’s foot.
The report further revealed that the circus failed to screen the elephants against infectious and contagious diseases as prescribed by the CZA and even failed to procure the tranquilizing equipment and essential drugs to meet emergency. “The circus failed to provide housing conditions to macaws and cockatoos,” the order read. The circus houses at least 20 animals, including elephants, horses, dogs and macaws, officials said. Following the CZA order, the circus has already filed for an appeal and awaits a hearing date.
“This circus was established nearly 70 years ago and we have been performing in and around Mumbai every year. We have appealed but are awaiting our moment to be fairly heard. In the meanwhile, our next performance is on January 20 at Mulund check naka for a month,” said Venu Gopal of Great Golden Circus, declining to answer questions about the conditions of the animals. “The matter is sub-judice now. A team of medical experts have closely examined the animals, especially the elephants and we are awaiting the report to take further action,” Jayoti Banerjee, deputy forest officer, Alibaug region said.
Banerjee added that since they were intimated about the status of the violations by circus, forest officials have been deployed at the circus to ensure that animals, especially the elephants are not displayed. “Strict action must be taken against the circus. They should not be let off easy for they have cruelly treated elephants,” said Sunish Subramanian of Plants and Animals Welfare Society, Mumbai, who was among the first to file complaint against the circus to the forest officials. Though, no elephants were made to perform on the last show on January 16 at Kharghar, in a show after the CZA order on December 29, two elephants were made to perform, to hit a football with a bat.