Bobby and Moira Roberts, owners of Bobby Roberts’ Super Circus, are being prosecuted on criminal charges over the mistreatment of Anne the elephant.
The charges followed a daring undercover investigation by ADI which exposed sickening abuse of Anne, the UK’s last remaining circus elephant, at the circus winter quarters.
In an audacious operation an ADI Special Investigations Department team placed a camera that continuously monitored Anne for over two weeks. The 57 year old Asian elephant (torn from the wild as a baby), is severely arthritic. She was permanently chained by two legs, barely able to move, throughout the period. Defenseless Anne was in severe pain and repeatedly beaten, kicked and punched by circus workers – almost 50 incidents were captured. Monty, a camel, was spat at and hit, and miniature ponies and horses hit. Video from this investigation can be viewed here.
The footage caused an outcry as it swept around the world and the Robertses were forced to hand over Anne, then Monty, to safari parks. Throughout, the pair insisted that Anne had been well cared for and loved.
ADI’s legal team secured testimony from experts all over the world, analyzed and indexed 519 hours of footage so lawyers could identify each charge, and prepared criminal prosecutions under the UK’s Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA). The case was laid before the court during the summer and then in November, the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) agreed that it would take up the ADI prosecution. At the pre-trial hearing in December, the circus owners pleaded not guilty and trial date was set for June next year.
This is the first prosecution of a circus under the new AWA and the first ever prosecution related to circus animal husbandry (the chaining).
The only other circus prosecution in the UK legal history took place in 1998 and was also brought by ADI – this won the cruelty convictions of trainer Mary Chipperfield and her husband, and their elephant keeper.
The case for Anne will test whether the UK’s new AWA can bring owners to justice.
Owners are responsible for providing their animals with a safe, secure and appropriate environment.
The charges relate to not preventing her mistreatment, and allowing her to be permanently chained to the ground.