Circus fire raises concerns about safety of animals
Vijay SinghVijay Singh, TNN Oct 30, 2011,
MUMBAI: The fire that broke out at the New Golden Circus in Chunabhatti on Friday night due to a stray firecracker from a neighbouring slum, has brought into focus the issue of safety and well-being of performing animals.
Animal activists who had rushed to the spot near Priyadarshini Park told TOI that it was fortunate that none of the four horses and five performing dogs were injured in the fire. However, they alleged that the animals were "poorly maintained" at the circus.
Chembur-based veterinarian, Dr Deepa Katyal, who checked on the animals at the spot, said, "The horses looked weak and terrified and the five performing dogs were kept in a small enclosure. In fact, one of the female dogs is pregnant." She added that the activists gave water to the horses to quench their thirst and calm them down after the fire.
Animal welfare officer of Plant and Animals Welfare Society (PAWS), Sunish Subramanian, said: "It was the first performing night of the circus when the fire engulfed the canopy of the tent. Though no one was injured, but more care should be taken by the circus management and animal welfare authorities."
The secretary of Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA), Lt Colonel J C Khanna, said: "I have asked my inspectors to check if one of the circus dogs is pregnant and if there is any lapse in the upkeep of animals. So far, we have gathered that the circus organizers had permission from Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to run the show."
Khanna said there were no wild animals like elephants at the circus as the management did not have permission from wildlife authority. "The canopy was not fire-proof, which led to the spread of fire. My officials will visit this circus as well as Rambo Circus in Bandra for inspections and preventive checks daily."
Activist Bhavin Gathani of the Goregaon-based NGO, Karuna Parivar said, "Circuses that employ animals should not be allowed in the city, due to such fire hazards in congested environment . In 2005, several seals of Russian Circus died in a fire in Andheri."