Stop Circus Suffering

ADI comments on outcome of Anne the elephant trial

Bobby Roberts has today become the first circus owner to be found guilty of offences under the Animal Welfare Act (2006).

Anne Longleat

Bobby Roberts, owner of the Bobby Roberts Super Circus, has today become the first circus owner to be found guilty of offences under the Animal Welfare Act (2006). Mr Roberts was given a conditional discharge of 3 years and received no fine, nor a ban from keeping animals. His wife Moira was acquitted of all charges, as it was not proven that she owned the elephant.

Animal Defenders International Chief Executive, Jan Creamer said: “Despite the considerable suffering caused to Anne the elephant, the sentencing meted out to Mr Roberts is derisory and provides no faith that the Animal Welfare Act can protect animals in circuses.”

Inspection after inspection fails to identify this abuse. In addition, so many industry witnesses admitted this is acceptable practice; indeed the defence claimed Anne should not be chained all day but for a staggering 13.5 hours a day, more than four times as much as is permitted in zoos. These practices will not stop until the use of wild animals in circuses is prohibited by law.

For years, Animal Defenders International has been campaigning to set Anne free from her chains and the terrible conditions in which she was kept and, despite the obstacles we faced at every turn, we refused to give up hope. Our commitment to ensure that action was taken has given Anne her freedom from the circus, along with the camel called Monty.

The shocking footage, filmed during January-February 2011, shows a staggeringly high level of violence. Incidents included Anne, an elderly and severely arthritic elephant, being hit with a metal pitchfork and kicked around the face and body 48 times by workers, who were also seen beating and spitting on a camel and beating miniature ponies and horses on numerous occasions.

The disturbing footage also shows Anne constantly chained, by her front and arthritic back leg, with only enough room to take one step forward or backwards, for the entire period of filming. Her chains were only changed to different legs twice,

Just a week after ADI exposed to the public the abuse that she was suffering, Anne was transferred to a safari park with the owners’ consent.

Anne’s story is one repeated all over the world. It is time to ensure it never happens again here. The government must prohibit the use of wild animals in circuses as they have promised.

ADI filmed at Longleat just last week and although her life has improved since her rescue from the circus, we urge Longleat to find Anne a companion as a matter of urgency; she has been on her own for too long and should finally be happy with one of her own kind to share her days with.

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