Rohan Bopanna is with PETA against cockfighting

MUMBAI: Tennis champion Rohan Bopanna has shown his support against animal cruelty by playing a role in People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India’s campaign.

Recently qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics, he is seen posing with rescued rooster Smack next to the words "Tennis Is a Sport – Cockfighting Is Not". The print visual for the campaign was shot by ace photographer Sam Mohan whereas Bopanna's hair and make-up were done by Tejal Rao.

"When it comes to cockfights …[roosters] are taught to be aggressive … and they have got knives and spurs on their feet, trying to injure one another," said Bopanna. "Roosters in cockfights are left to die …. Cockfights never really have a victory. One dies, another one gets injured."

Roosters raised for fighting are often confined to cramped cages and tormented to make them aggressive. Razor-sharp spurs are attached to the birds' feet to make fights more exciting ie bloody. The birds often have their eyes gouged out and sustain broken wings and legs, punctured lungs and severed spinal cords. Those who survive are forced to fight again.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, prohibits forcing animals to fight. And in 2014, the Honourable Supreme Court of India ruled in favour of PETA India by making staged fights between animals illegal nationwide but cockfights are still organised in some parts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and elsewhere.

Bopanna is currently ranked 11 in the world in the doubles category for tennis. He reached his career-high doubles ranking in 2013, when he was ranked number three in the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals.

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