Animal groups launch online petition against return of elephants to circus

New Delhi: After a Pune court ordered sending of four "traumatised" elephants from a rescue centre back to the circus, animal welfare organisations on Wednesday launched an online petition requesting the court to reconsider its decision. The four elephants aged 25, 35, 41 and 52 years and of which one Goldie (52) is blind, were rescued in severe conditions with rotting foot pads, overgrown toenails and multiple wounds on May 27 from the Rambo Circus. The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) rescued the elephants along with other animals, including horses and dogs. After finding indications of animal cruelty, the AWBI cancelled the circus’ permission to perform and the CZA cancelled the recognition of the circus.  "Elephants used by a circus for illegal performances were ordered to be sent back to the Rambo Circus based on a loophole created by an inadvertent procedural flaw in the confiscation process by the enforcement authorities," said the Wildlife SOS, after launching the online petition. The court ordered Rambo circus to furnish a bond of Rs 20 lakh while directing the investigating officer to return the elephants to the circus. “The blind and injured elephants have had a small taste of freedom. All the efforts in providing them medical care and treatment will be lost if they are returned to the circus,” said elephant veterinarian Yaduraj Khadpekar. The court order also permits the circus to use the animals for performances while not subjecting them to cruelty. "No animal can be made to perform tricks without being subjected to cruelty like beatings or threats," an animal expert said.