Tuesday 01 May 2018 | 10

The distress of Maya the elephant or the impotence of the law

This Asia elephant who is over 50 years old continues to be exploited by the circus La Piste aux Stars, while several veterinarians attest that her health is in danger and she is in appalling suffering.

Hr blog

The question of whether the detention of wild animals in circuses, touring, dressage and shows are compatible with their development is an issue that must be submitted to public deliberation. This question will be decided in the coming months, so that we have a clear legislative framework, as is the case in other countries. The purpose of this forum is not to answer this question. We simply want to bring this to the attention of the citizens and the public authorities via a case that is emblematic of the stalemate in which we are collectively in.

A tiny enclosure

Maya, an Asian elephant who is over 50 years old and is being followed by the One Voice association, continues to be transported and exploited by the circus La Piste aux étoiles. While several veterinarians, including the one who was instructed in February 2018 by Mrs. Patricia Willaert the Prefect for Lot-et-Garonne, have testified that because of her state of health, she can no longer be touring on the road. The decree of 18 March 2011 laying down the conditions of detention and use of non-domestic animals in itinerant shows is also not respected.

As can be seen from reading articles 22 and 26 of the decree, the conditions of accommodation of circus animals must meet minimum requirements (evacuation of urine, adequate litter disposal, an enclosure ensuring the safety of the public outside of the shows and during the shows). Sick or over-aged animals should no longer participate in shows (Article 9). Anyone who sees Maya, whether in her tiny pen or in the truck, understands that the law is not respected. In addition, the authority of the Prefect is being flouted. For she had asked that the circus leave Maya in her winter quarters or transfer her to a sanctuary, for example to the sanctuary Elephant Haven, Haute-Vienne. Here she has a place that has been reserved since October 2017.

Double injustice

This elephant, who suffers from her feet and has a stereotypical behaviour confirming her state of madness to which her living conditions and loneliness have led her to. It’s the symbol of a double injustice: she has, for several years, been in a state of distress that cannot leave anyone indifferent and the law in this case is helpless. Maya's suffering is tragic proof that when it comes to animals, laws are not often applied. Moreover, when offenses are denounced by an association, such as One Voice which since September 2016 has led these investigations whose seriousness is indisputable. There is a legal battle, and lawsuits that burden the budget of circuses and make their situation even more difficult. However, the facts are stubborn: the veterinarian mandated by the prefect reaches the same conclusions as the international specialists to whom One Voice, in September 2017, had entrusted expert observations: the state of health of Maya is alarming, her diet and her conditions of detention are not adapted to her needs and she suffers from bad feet, not to mention an untreated abscess. The High Court of Strasbourg also recognized on February 13 2018 that the work done by One Voice, which the circus La Piste aux Étoiles had brought to court, was legitimate: it authorized the association to continue its fight which had already obtained in December 2017 the support of more than 100,000 people who signed the petition to free Maya (#JusticePourMaya).

Traveling shows are better than this game of hide-and-seek that drives some of them outside of the law. It's been a long time since anyone knew that in some circus’s animals are abused. The animal welfare associations campaign against the captivity of wild animals in circuses but they cannot replace the legislator. Their primary mission is to denounce situations of abuse and to bring it to the public’s attention so that the fate of animals, which interests more and more people, is known. Elephants, who everyone recognizes as intelligent and majestic, whose species is threatened, will not perish in indifference and that in the absence of a clear and courageous political decision the existing laws are at least respected.

The specificity of an association like One Voice is to know how to dialogue with the contributors to find solutions that are suitable for everyone. It is not in the interest of the La Piste aux étoiles circus to ruin itself in lawsuits or to lose any prestige in the eyes of an audience which, even when it continues to go to see shows with animals and does not tolerate their mistreatment. Muriel Arnal, the president of One Voice, has provided substantial financial assistance to Elephant Haven, based in Bussière-Galant, so that it can accommodate Maya. Everything is ready for her and, anyway, she cannot work anymore. Should we wait for her to die? Should we wait for an accident? Should we agree with those who say that the path of reform, dialogue and law is in vain and that only a scandal will change things?

This is not a balance of power between animal and circus advocates, but a demand for justice: we want the law to be enforced. Maya must be able to enjoy a well-deserved retirement. Or is it that we are no longer in a state of law.

See the gallery of Corine Pelluchon and the signatories in Libération
Corine Pelluchon
Hr blog

In the subject

For Jumbo and all the animals of "the circus": the scandalous mail, which says it all ...
Micha died on the 12th November

Comments 10

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Audrey | Wednesday 23 May 2018

Cette situation est inadmissible ! A quoi servent les lois puisqu’elles ne sont pas appliquées - du moins en ce qui concerne les animaux ?... One Voice est là pour toi Maya et ceux qui aiment les animaux aussi ! Comment peut-on de nos jours aller au cirque où des animaux sont exhibés ?!!!

jylout | Monday 14 May 2018

Comment peut on se permettre de ne pas respecter les lois, que fait la justice, devant ce non respect?? Accepter de se faire bafouer ainsi, c'est une honte, de ne pas faire respecter le droit des animaux,devant des décisions de justice.Le cirque fait ce qu'il veut en rigolant de tout... Intouchables

Guillemette | Friday 11 May 2018

Que dire et que faire encore pour Maya et tous les autres qui souffrent. Les lois inutiles car non appliquées.
Refusons de cautionner ce genre de spectacles en boycottant c'est tout ce qui nous reste.

Lilly | Friday 11 May 2018

Sauver maya du tel souffrance se sentir unpuissante je prie pour quel puisse finir ces jours dans le centre de retraite