Activists Angry Over DoE Nod for Circus Animals

Activists Angry Over DoE Nod for Circus Animals Activists Angry Over DoE Nod for Circus Animals

T he Department of Environment (DoE) has granted permission to a well-known circus to perform shows using animals including penguins, sharks and sea lions, imported by the circus owners, sparking anger among animal rights activists.

The activists had launched a campaign earlier this year against animal abuse in circuses which was backed by high ranking officials from the DoE including its head, Masoumeh Ebtekar and provincial environment directors in 14 provinces, who joined the campaign to ban the use of animals for entertainment. Activists say the DoE does not have a unified approach towards the issue.

An animal rights activist informed Mehr News Agency that after numerous petitions and letters sent to the High Council of Environmental Protection and peaceful protests by the activists in front of the DoE to protest animal abuse and use in circuses, the only response they received was: “changes do not happen overnight.”

But the increasing number of provinces joining the campaign to ban use of animals for performances generated hope among the activists who insisted that even if circuses cannot be immediately banned, they must strictly follow the rules and regulations imposed by the authorities concerned.


In yet another seemingly positive outcome of the campaign, Ebrahim Khalili, the owner of the famous Eagle Circus had announced that his circus would stop shows by Rhesus macaque, snakes and crocodile and promised to hand over the circus’s  20-year old bear to Tehran’s Eram Zoo. The circus was planning to only keep five tigers and two tiger cubs for its future shows.

But reports that the Eagle Circus had imported 20 penguins, a couple of sea lions, and a shark using special aquarium containers, has shocked the activists. The circus is going to have its first performance with the newly imported animals in the south western city of Ahwaz next week presumably to be followed by more shows across the country given that the proprietors have leased the marine animals for a period of two years.

The activists are now worried that the DoE backing of their campaign against use of animals in circuses is superficial and “only to calm the activists and protesters” while it continues to issue permits for entry of new animals in Iran’s circus sector.