Amid coronavirus pandemic, an animal rights organization has alerted that another COVID-like zoonotic disease from elephants can pose serious threat to public health.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has urged Union minister for animal husbandry and dairying, Giriraj Singh to ban elephants from being exhibited or trained for performances, as high prevalence of tuberculosis among them can pose a threat to public health.
PETA called for the Minister’s attention to another imminent zoonotic threat — tuberculosis — faced by captive elephants in the country.
In a letter, minister Singh was apprised that tuberculosis, which can be transmitted from elephants to humans, has been detected in elephants in the country.
“Many captive elephants in the country suffer from TB,” the letter stated.
PETA noted that captive elephants who have tested reactive for TB have been used for rides at Amer Fort near Jaipur and that those used in circuses, films, TV shows, festivals, parades, and other spectacles could also be putting the public at risk.
“It is high time we unshackle all elephants and allow them to live freely, as nature intended. Banning their use in performances would bring us closer to that goal and protect the public from this source of tuberculosis. COVID-19 has shown us that zoonotic disease risks must be taken seriously,” says PETA India CEO and veterinarian Dr Manilal Valliyate.
Continued use of elephants could have severe consequences for public health, tourism, and the overall economy, as the nation has rightly learned from the current pandemic.
“The ministry can issue a central notification in the official Gazette of India banning the exhibition and training of elephants as performing animals,” the letter written to the minister stated.