17 January, 2021

The Freedom Of A Cage

Circus owners and trainers claim that moves to take away their animals are the real cruel acts

The Freedom Of A Cage

She’s a cute, spoilt three-year-old. But Sundari, a tigon cub, is also at the centre of a raging custody battle between the government and the circus she belongs to. Rejected at birth by her mother, Sundari was raised by Bhim Bahadur Lama and his wife, Beena, in their tent in the Empire circus. "Apart from breast-feeding her, Beena did everything a mother could do for her," recalls Lama as a playful Sundari-offspring of an accidental mating between a tigress and a lion-reaches her paws out of her cage and turns over on her back, begging for a tickle.

Despite her caring foster parents, Sundari’s days at the circus may be numbered. And she’s not the only one. At stake is the future of about 99 other tigers, 256 lions, 22 bears, 12 panthers and 15 monkeys (department of animal welfare figures) who’ve spent their lives performing in Indian circuses. The danger: the government’s plan to move the Delhi high court asking all circuses to hand over their animals to be housed in specially-built zoo annexes. The moving spirit behind this unusual...



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