People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is urging the Indian government to ban elephant exhibits and training over warnings of tuberculosis. The prevalence of tuberculosis can be a public health threat, according to the animal rights organization.

PETA called on the Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying as the country is concerned over coronavirus to provide concern to another zoonotic disease, tuberculosis. Elephants that are used for rides or in circuses, television, festivals and parades could put the public at risk.

“Many captive elephants in the country suffer from TB. 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. The Ministry can issue a central notification in the official Gazette of India banning the exhibition and training of elephants as performing animals,” said PETA India CEO and veterinarian Dr Manilal Valliyate in a letter to the government.

Individual studies have found that elephants carry tuberculosis, including a 2016 paper that said, “There is evidence to suggest cross-species tuberculosis transmission.” Elephants have received various protections from the government in recent years, but PETA and other animal rights groups recommend ending them for exhibition and training as well.

Read more recent news about elephants in One Green Planet including the DC Council’s ivory ban, Indian elephants rejoice during COVID-19 lockdown and a rescued elephant celebrates freedom! 

Sign this petition to ban elephant riding in India!

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