HC entrusts circus hippopotamus with welfare trust

The animal was at the centre of a three-year-long legal battle between PETA India and Asiad Circus

Published - April 22, 2021 12:44 am IST - New Delhi

21DEL Hippo 21delhippo

21DEL Hippo 21delhippo

“The journey of Chotu – the Hippopotamus has finally been a happy one!” the Delhi High Court said while giving the responsibility of life-long care of Chotu, who was part of the Asiad Circus, to Radhe Krishna Temple Elephant Welfare Trust.

‘Chotu’, a male hippopotamus, has been at the centre of a three-year-long legal battle fought by the PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) India against the Asiad Circus.

The hippopotamus was originally part of the Asiad Circus, which went into difficulties due to financial constraints.

PETA India, after acquiring knowledge that ‘Chotu’ could be in danger, approached the Delhi High Court seeking immediate seizure of the hippopotamus.

Illegally retained

PETA India argued that the animal was being illegally retained by the Asiad Circus, despite licence of the circus having been cancelled. It was alleged that the circus was making the animals perform illegally.

On January 22 this year, PETA India informed the High Court that despite repeated orders, Asiad Circus had failed to disclose the status and location of the hippopotamus. Following this, the High Court had then directed Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Delhi, to immediately take steps for seizure of the hippopotamus from the custody of Asiad Circus.

Last week, the court was informed that Radhe Krishna Temple Elephant Welfare Trust has been given the custody of the hippopotamus on October 27, 2019, and since then, he has been living in the facility maintained by the Trust.

Satisfied with care

An inspection done at the facility by the Animal Welfare Board (AWB), including representatives of PETA India, found “complete satisfaction in the manner in which the hippopotamus is being kept in the said facility, in terms of its living condition, food etc”.

The AWB also confirmed that all the facilities and minimum standards are being completely taken care of. It said the Trust may continue the life-long care of the hippopotamus.

The report also concluded that the hippopotamus was found to be healthy, mentally as well as physically, and is being provided with all the basic environmental enrichments that are necessary for the welfare of captive wild animals.

The housing conditions, the expert veterinary services and management care available to the hippopotamus met all the necessary basis or minimum standards and was suggested to be one of the best in the country.

Taking note of the submission, Justice Prathiba M. Singh said, “It is heartening for this court to learn that such a facility with good living conditions and high standards is being run by the Trust”.

“In view of the satisfaction report of the inspecting committee... it is directed that the Trust shall have life-long care of the Hippopotamus – Chotu, subject to the condition that he shall be treated with proper care and his living facilities shall be maintained,” Justice Singh said.

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