India’s Biggest Elephant Rescue Operation Ever: New Lives Begin for Four Abused Circus Elephants – Including Peanut, Just 6 Years Old
Rescue Comes on the Heels of Circus Owner’s Arrests for Rape and Human Trafficking
(Nanded, India – April 7, 2015) – Four elephants were rescued today from Moonlight Circus in Maharashtra, the very same circus that recently made headlines when its owner and several officials were arrested on charges of rape and human trafficking. A ten-member team from Wildlife SOS coordinated the rescue operation and getting the elephants onto three trucks. The elephants are now on their way to Wildlife SOS Elephant Rescue Center where they will receive good veterinary care, a healthy diet, companionship, and everything they need to have a healthy future. The convoy will halt at a transit facility enroute to let the animals recuperate before they move to the final destination.
Dr Arun A Sha, Wildlife SOS Veterinary Director, said, “The four rescued circus elephants will be shifted to the Wildlife SOS Elephant Care Center where the animals will receive much needed treatment and rehabilitation.”
With the circus, the elephants were restrained on both front and back legs when they weren’t performing, and were given little opportunity to exercise. The mental and physical health status of these elephants is very poor due to lack of veterinary care, no regular exercise, and a very unbalanced diet with poor nutrition. The circus was already known for its excessive cruelty and the circus owner had already been arrested and convicted for human and child trafficking.
Included in the rescue are: Peanut, a 6 year old female; Coconut, a 12 year old female; Mac, a 22 year old bull and Wally, an 18 year old bull elephant. The rescues are part of Wildlife SOS’ campaign to see every last circus elephant in India rescued. When the campaign began, late last year, 67 elephants were enduring life in Indian circuses. With today’s rescues, that number is down to 62!
“After evaluating the health conditions of Moonlight Circus elephants in August 2014, the elephants in this circus were a priority as they were in terrible distress.” said Geeta Seshamani co-founder Wildlife SOS.
Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS said “I am relieved that these elephants will now be able to lead a normal life and learn to be elephants again. WSOS has also offered employment to the mahouts from the Circus to ensure they are not deprived of a job. They will be trained to handle elephants with kindness and compassion”.
“Making elephants in circuses a thing of the past is a big goal, and it’s one that will require much collaboration. We would like to acknowledge the role played by AWBI, CZA, Hon’ble Minister Mr Prakash Javadekar, Smt. Maneka Gandhi, District Collector and SP. Police of Nanded, FIAPO, PFA Hyderabad, PFA Pune, PFA Uttarakhand, PFA Wardha, RAWW & Thane SPCA in helping to give these animals a life of freedom and dignity.” he added.
These four elephants now face a long road to recovery. Wildlife SOS urgently needs funds for their ongoing care, treatment, rehabilitation and basic infrastructure to hold these four elephants. Please help by following the link: MUST INCLUDE PLEASE www.wildlifesos.org
Prashant of FIAPO who coordinated the court procedures and liaised with local administration said “This has been a marathon effort & a great experience to work with so many Government agencies and dedicated people & NGOs from across India”
About Wildlife SOS: A non-profit organization, Wildlife SOS is one of the largest rescue and conservation charities in South Asia. They operate ten wildlife rehabilitation facilities across India, including the world’s largest sloth bear rescue center and the recently established chain-free Elephant Conservation and Care Center, which is the first in India and currently houses eleven rescued elephants. Wildlife SOS runs a tribal rehabilitation project that aims to create an alternative livelihood for poachers and other indigenous communities that used to depend on wildlife for a livelihood. Additionally, they run a leopard rescue center, a wildlife hotline in New Delhi and ‘Forest Watch’ which is an anti-poaching wildlife crime enforcement unit. More information about the organization can be found at http://www.wildlifesos.org