Afzal and Unmukt join other rescued camels in enjoying a meal of marigolds.

Getting Over the Hump

Issue 2|Spring 2024

PETA Entities Are Saving Camels Around the World From Sacrifices, Rides, and Circuses

Afzal, Unmukt, and three other camels were spotted in the holy town of Varanasi, India, where they were being prepared for an illegal religious sacrifice: Their legs were to be bound, their mouths tied shut, and their throats cut. But PETA India and local activists jumped into action, alerted the police, and got the sacrifice stopped!

Vet treating a camel in Petra
A PETA-supported veterinary clinic in Petra, Jordan, treats animals who have been injured or overworked.

­Though no longer in imminent danger, the camels were exhausted and in terrible shape. They had varying degrees of liver and kidney damage as well as bacterial infections. Two, including Afzal, also had gaping, maggot-infested wounds caused by wooden pegs that had been inserted into holes piercing their nostrils. The camels’ owners had tied ropes to the pegs, which they used to control them.

But that misery was soon behind them. The camels walked into a truck bed, lay down on the straw, and were taken to a PETA-supported Animal Rahat sanctuary in Maharashtra, where they received food, medical care, rest, and TLC. Now they’re enjoying sanctuary life, including grooming sessions, holiday feasts, and the company of other residents. PETA entities around the world are working to liberate camels from abusive situations, exposing the cruelty of camel rides and races, shutting down animal-exploiting circuses, and more.

A camel in Giza being pulled by the lip

­Let’s Put the Brakes on Animal Rides

As in Egypt (see the cover story), PETA is pushing authorities in the “Lost City” of Petra, Jordan, to replace animal rides with electric vehicles. More than 1,300 camels, donkeys, and horses haul tourists in the sweltering desert heat, and there’s no shade for them and usually no water, as the one water trough is commonly empty. Young touts routinely whip and beat the animals, even hitting them in the head with rocks. A PETA Asia eyewitness filmed camels being forced to work despite having fly-infested, open wounds caused by bridles, a daily sight.

­Traveling? Take Action!

If you’re part of a tour group, don’t be shy about speaking up and explaining why you won’t participate in activities that exploit animals. You could have a huge impact! When one PETA member was traveling in Egypt, he told his tour group about PETA Asia’s exposés showing how animals used for rides are beaten and abused – and other members of the group decided to ditch the rides. Electric vehicles and other innovations provide people with a source of income that doesn’t exploit animals – and it’s up to tourists and travel companies to demand them, as governments’ promises of reform are often empty ones.

Screaming camels beaten at the Birqash Camel Market in Egypt
Screaming camels were beaten at the Birqash Camel Market in Egypt before being sold into the tourism industry.

Big Wins Under the Big Top

­PETA India works with local authorities to crack down on circuses that use camels and other animals illegally. Following the group’s complaints, all animals – a camel, a pony, three dogs, a baby monkey, and a goat – were seized from the Karur Latha Circus and police registered formal complaints against the Great Indian Circus and Jumbo Circus for forcing camels and other animals to perform tricks not approved by the Animal Welfare Board of India.

Schoolchildren in India protest animals in circuses
Schoolchildren in India want animals out of circuses.

In the US, after more than 100,000 PETA supporters took action and celebrities like TLC’s Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas spoke out, UniverSoul Circus – which had exploited camels, elephants, tigers, and other animals for decades – went animal-free. Now our sights are set on Shrine circuses that still use animals, and we’re making progress. After hearing from PETA, award-winning home-building and design company Jagoe Homes pulled the plug on its significant sponsorship of the Hadi Shrine Circus and expressed the hope that “all animals will be out of the circus someday.” Polyram Plastic Industries also cut ties with the Hadi Shrine Circus and Sherwin-Williams advised its local business groups not to sponsor the circus in the future, both after hearing from us.

Be Part of It! ­

Shun rides and attractions that exploit animals. ­And urge all Shrine circuses to go animal-free.

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