UK & World News

  • 20 November 2012, 2:14

Anne The Elephant: Circus Couple Go On Trial

A couple who run a circus have gone on trial accused of causing unnecessary suffering to an elephant.

Bobby and Moira Roberts, from Bobby Roberts Super Circus, are also charged with failing to prevent unnecessary suffering and failure to take reasonable steps to ensure the welfare of Anne, an Asian elephant.

Helen Law, prosecuting, said that between January 21 and February 15, 2011, an organisation known as Animal Defenders International placed a camera inside Anne's barn, and made the footage public in March 2011.

Ms Law played extracts of the undercover filming and told district judge David Chinney, sitting at Northampton Crown Court, that it showed Anne "constantly chained by two legs" for the entirety of the visible footage, and Anne being "repeatedly kicked and hit by one of the defendants' employees" with various implements including a pitchfork.

At the time, Anne was being kept in her "winter quarters" in Polebrook, Cambridgeshire, where the circus is based when it is not on tour.

Ms Law said some extracts of the film showed Mr Roberts kicking the elephant's trunk, and supervising the chaining of Anne.

She went on to allege that grooms were inadequately trained and there was a "total lack of supervision of staff" at the barn.

Ms Law said some footage showed Anne rocking backwards and forwards which was "a sign of distress" caused by long periods of tethering and a lack of social companions.

She said that when the RSPCA arrived to investigate on March 28, Anne's environment had "significantly altered" and she was "unchained". However, she did not appear to be receiving appropriate medication for her arthritis which was diagnosed in 2003.

After medication was given to Anne by a vet, the elephant showed "significant improvement".

Ms Law said that in April 2011, the defendants agreed to hand Anne over to Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire, where she is to live out her days.

Mr and Mrs Roberts deny all three charges brought against them under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The trial continues.

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