John Abraham played a bad guy in the 2004 biker film Dhoom, but when it comes to helping animals, he’s all heart. That’s why the Bollywood icon has been honoured with the title of ambassador for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India’s campaign to fight circus cruelty. On behalf of PETA India, Abraham has fired off a letter to Jayanthi Natarajan, the Minister of Environment and Forests, urging her to make all circuses in India animal-free. In the letter, Abraham points out that animals in circuses are routinely beaten and forced to perform unnatural tricks against their will.
“Unlike human performers, animals are forced to entertain through the use of fear, pain or hunger. Whips, clubs, hooks and other weapons are often used to inflict pain on elephants and other animals in order to force them to perform confusing tricks”, writes Abraham. “I hope you will look into your heart and make the compassionate choice by issuing an immediate ban on the use of all animals in circuses.”
Animals in circuses are subjected to chronic confinement, physical abuse and psychological torment. Whips and other weapons – including ankuses, which are heavy steel-tipped rods – are often used to inflict pain on animals and beat them into submission. Animals perform confusing, unnatural tricks – such as riding bicycles, standing on their heads or jumping through rings of fire – not because they want to but out of fear of violent punishment.
Even when they aren’t performing, animals often have their access to food, water and veterinary care severely restricted. Dogs are crammed into dirty cages and rarely let out, and birds are confined to small cages and have their wings clipped so that they cannot fly. Horses are kept tethered on short ropes, and elephants are kept chained by their legs. The government has already banned the use of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers, lions and bulls in performances.