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26 Jan, 2009 05:46

Circus elephants face internet auction

A famous Russian circus trainer is desperately trying to keep two Indian elephants he has devoted 30 years of his life to. If Yury Durov fails to come up with the asking price, they will be auctioned off on the internet.

The Russian State Circus is demanding more than $100,000 for the animals.

Trapped in this tug of war are the two elephants, locked in a cramped Moscow Animal Theatre, allowed neither to perform nor be moved anywhere else.

After 30 years of training and performing with Remi and Suzie at the Russian circus, Yury Durov quit his job. He took the elephants with him to his new venue, but was not allowed to use the animals in performance.

“They tell me if you want the elephants, buy them. They want to put them up for an internet auction. But whoever buys them has to buy me with the elephants because they just wouldn’t move without my guidance,” Durov says.

Konstantin, a campaigner for animal rights, worries that if the ownership dispute drags on, the elephants’ suffering will grow.

“They’re going literally crazy in that place, I’ve been there,” he said. “I could tell that by their movements. The elephants have gone through years of pain and suffering making a buck for the circus. Maybe it’s time to take care of them.”

Animal welfare groups say money seems to be the main priority of everyone involved.

Representatives of the State Circus confirmed plans to sell the elephants online to the highest bidder.

Durov also complains about the asking price.

“I don’t know how they could have come up with such a price-tag. What about the years I’ve spent training the animals? Or the money that my theatre has spent to host and treat the elephants over the last 15 months or so? And that’s roughly the same amount they’re asking for the animals, by the way,” Durov said.