Friday, Jan 10, 2003
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It took six hours and a lot persuasion for the members of the People for Animals (PfA), Police, Forest and SPCA authorities to get the chimpanzees released by the Great Royal Circus, showing on the SIAA Grounds here.
Though the circus owned four chimpanzees--Ganga (43), Lakshmi (22), Shiva (22) and Guru (10)-- the activists rescued three, while Guru was left alone as he was in an `agitated state'.
Of the four, two are in very poor health. Lakshmi is suspected to have pelvic dislocation due to which the animal could neither sit nor stand, said a veterinarian, who evaluated the condition of the animal. A visit to the circus showed the chimp lying in a blood-stained bed, having got "little medical attention", the activists alleged. Another animal was blind in one eye. Apart from the two, the circus has an `albino' chimpanzee, Guru, who was forced to do cycling, which the circus authorities claimed was a major attraction.
The rescue mission began at around 11-30 a.m. with the arrival of the PfA activists, accompanied by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Kilpauk), S.S. Krishnamoorthy, and the SPCA authorities at the circus. The circus executives initially said they had sent word to the manager, without whose permission, the animals could not be shifted. Agreeing to the suggestion, Mr. Krishnamoorthy and the activists waited for about half-an-hour. But, the manager of the circus did not turn up and the circus workers were hostile towards the activists.
At one stage, the circus authorities refused to part with the animal and delayed the handing over process. Suddenly a person, claiming to be the advocate of the circus company, arrived on the scene and stated that the High Court had been moved against shifting the animals. When the activists wanted the advocate to furnish a copy of the court order, he explained that the case was numbered and would come up for hearing on Friday.
The activists then informed the Joint Commissioner of Police (North), C. Sylendra Babu, who rushed to the spot. He made it clear to the circus staff that they should hand over the animals without any further delay.
The circus authorities demanded an acknowledgement for taking possession of the animals. Around 2 p.m. the circus veterinarian told the police and the activists that only after providing the feed, the animal could be shifted from its cage to another one. Finally at around 6 p.m. the mobile cages to transport Ganga and Shiva were put on another vehicle and the injured Lakshmi was shifted to the PfA ambulance and transported to the Vandalur Zoo.
When contacted, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Management authorities in the city said the chimpanzees were listed under Appendix I and II of the CITES, which stated that the import/export of these primates was subject to regulation. The Wildlife authorities said the Government of India already banned the performance of animals such as tigers, lions, panthers, bears and monkeys (including all primates) in circuses.
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