Bollywood actress Dia Mirza has appealed to the government to impose a complete ban on the use of animals in circuses.
In a letter to Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave, she said animals which are used for entertainment are "mutilated and starved" and are forced to perform unnatural tricks.
Elephants, which is a national heritage animal, is made to endure constant confinement and abuse in circuses, flight feathers of all performing birds are cut and bull hooks used to control elephants, she said in the letter written on World Circus Day on April 15.
"It is time we dissociate cruelty from entertainment, and let these majestic creatures be where they belong. Our culture also has many traditional art forms which showcase the skill of our artists. They should be adopted by circuses to evolve into an engaging and healthy entertainment.
"I express my support to the 'End Circus Suffering' campaign, which has helped hundreds of circus animals to be freed from this cruel form of entertainment. I urge you to consider the universal cruelty to animals in this industry and impose a complete and immediate end to the use of all animals in circuses," she said while supporting the campaign by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO).
The 'End Circus Suffering' campaign has so far enabled the rehabilitation of more than 160 abused animals from 15 circuses.
The federation, supported by 82 members and over 200 NGOs nationwide, has also submitted a detailed report of the state of animals in circuses in India to the Environment Ministry.
The FIAPO's investigations have shown animals with broken bones, infectious diseases, permanent physical and mental disorders, crippled animals that cannot even walk being forced by circuses to perform tricks.
FIAPO director Arpan Sharma commended the actress for her progressive stance and kindness to animals.
"The process of training animals to perform unnatural tricks is inherently abusive, as shown in numerous inspection reports. The FIAPO reiterates its appeal to the Environment Ministry to take note of this and ban the use of all animals in circuses.
"Presently, our request is with the Animal Welfare Division of the ministry, and we hope there will be a decision soon," Sharma said.