Friday, March 28, 2003

FROM CIRCUS TO ZOO TO THE GRAVE

Rescue to death
Circus chimpanzee perishes in zoo

In death it generated more controversy than during its 'rescue' from a circus earlier this year. Shiva, a 22-year-old male chimpanzee that animal rights activists took away from Royal Cicus and put in the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Chennai, died on March 15 after a week-long illness. At the time of death it was suffering from mouth ulcers and severe enteritis. The zoo said the circus, which had reared the chimp for 20 years, had overworked and underfed it....

It was two months ago, on January 9, that the People for Animals (Chennai) Charitable Trust took away Shiva and two other chimps from the circus with the help of the police. A few days later, the volunteers of the trust took away a fourth chimp, 10-year-old Guru.

At the zoo, the chimps were unhappy and restless, and on January 13, the secretary of the People for Animals wrote to the circus manager to spare the handlers of the chimpanzees on a daily pay of Rs 100....

After Shiva's death, people were concerened about the health of the other chimps lodged in the zoo. The condition of 43-year-old female chimp, Ganga, was said to be worsening and she was refusing to eat enough.

The circus authorities said the animals were in good shape when they were with them. On January 8, an associate professor of the Madras Veterinary College had certified all the animals in the circus were in "sound condition, good health (except the chimpanzee by name Laxmi, which is under treatment for recumbent ulcer) and apparently free from infectious diseases". They have moved the High Court to get the remaining chimps released.