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Friday 18.01.2019 | Name days: Antis, Antons

Animal Freedom: use of elephants in Riga Circus may be illegal

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUElephants Sonya and Vana Mana, who are used in shows in Riga Circus, were captured in the wild. They belong to an endangered group of animals – this was proven by the German Nature Conservation Agency. Use of endangered animals in circus shows is forbidden by Latvian laws.

Nevertheless, these elephants are continued to be used in Riga Circus shows, as reported by Animal Freedom organization.

Ever since spring 2014, two elephants are being used in shows of Riga Circus – African elephant Sonya and Asian elephant Vana Mana. This April, Animal Freedom representatives asked the Food and Veterinary Service to inspect documents for these elephants, their health state, living conditions and compliance with requirements of Latvia legislation.

After inspections at Riga Circus, FVS and Nature Conservation Office reported that no violations were found. The response letter to the organization did not contain information about the origin of these elephants. This is why Animal Freedom contacted the German Nature Conservation Agency and received copies of documents that stated that Sonya and Vana Mana were captured in the wild and are part of an endangered group of animals.

Animal Conservation Law and rules of the Cabinet of Ministers Nr. 959 state it is only allowed to use endangered wild animals in attractions if they had been born in captivity or had been isolated from their natural environment because of an injury or other reasons that do not allow animals to return to their natural habitat. With that, there is a serious risk that use of Sonya and Vana Mana in Riga Circus is illegal, as suggested by the organization.

Last week, Animal Freedom asked FVS and Nature Conservation Office to explain this situation as soon as possible and put an end to possible illegal activities at Riga Circus. However, there has been no word from the two institutions so far.

Protests of Animal Freedom began this April – after Riga Circus was asked to discontinue partnership with Lars Holscher, an elephant trainer who is accused of cruelty towards animals. Riga Circus ignored this request. As a result – nearly 70 people participated in a protest act against the use of animals in circus shows. ‘In spite of public protests and requests from the organization, the management of Riga Circus continues to sign new contracts with animal trainers – all shows of the new summer programme of Riga Circus shows have performances with elephants,’ – reports the organization.

‘Instead of reviewing information and presented arguments, the management of the circus has decided to cynically ignore matters of animal rights,’ – Animal Freedom representative Aivars Andersons comments the situation. ‘This is why we urge everyone who believes exploitation of animals is unacceptable in Riga Circus to take part in protest acts this July and August and support the idea of having an animal-suffering-free circus.’

Use of wild animals in circus shows is forbidden in Austria, Netherlands, Israel, Greece, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Bolivia, Columbia, Costa Rica and elsewhere in the world.


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  1. SAD WORRIED says:


  2. love says:

    Please we need more update on this! Response, I think Swedish news would be interested what had happened to this elephants Sonya and Vana! Please contact Aftonbladet, svt, for this information!Some people in Sweden thought the elephants would be in a good place with more freedom – not this very bad situation!! They must come to a better place!! People must be informed of this cruelness!! This elephant very much deserve a good life now, after all what they gone thru!!!

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