New rules for Circus units

NEW DELHI, FEB. 26. To make rescue centres and circuses more accountable and responsible towards the well-being of animals, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has, in the first such notification of its kind, brought them under the purview of the zoo rules.

The notification that came into effect from February 9, prescribes a more stringent set of guidelines for the upkeep and long-term maintenance of animals kept in rescue centres and circuses.

And while the rescue centres and circuses will now be governed by the Recognition of the Zoo Rules, Amendment 2004, the new set of guidelines will affect the rescue centres and circus all over the country.

The new set of rules states that owners of rescue centres and circus in the country are now law-bound by the zoo rules to look after the well-being, shelter and food requirement of the animals they house, failing which they could be punished.

The rules, which came into effect after more than a year of groundwork, will affect the functioning of over 25 registered rescue centres and 50 circuses in the country.

And while the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) is now working overtime to ensure that rescue centres and circuses register themselves so that a record can be kept of the same, special efforts are being made to educate wildlife personnel about the new rules. The implementation of the rule is to be monitored by the chief wildlife warden of each State, while the CZA is equipping itself to evaluate and recommend improvements to be made at rescue centres and circuses for their recognition.

"The new rule is good news for the animals as the owners can now be taken to task in case they fail to provide food, shelter and look after the general well being of the animals. The CZA authorities would be inspecting the various rescue centres and circuses for recognition of the same, allowing them to function. In case we notice that the centres are not up to the mark, CZA will recommend changes and give the centres six months grace period, granting them conditional reorganisation,'' explained the CZA scientific officer, Bipul Chakrabarty.

The rules also require an on-duty veterinarian at the centre, basic diagnostic facilities, comprehensive range of drugs, a reference library on animal health care and animal enclosures to be built as per the new guidelines. Also any animal that dies in a zoo shall be subjected to a detailed post-mortem by a veterinarian registered with the State Veterinary Council or the Veterinary Council of India and finding of the same shall be recorded and maintained for a period of at least six years.

"The new rules will ensure that animals remain safe, clean and well feed and that they are not subjected to undue cruelties,'' added Mr. Chakrabarty.