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Friday, November 11, 2011

Circus boss and his wife are charged with animal cruelty after secret footage revealed elephant being beaten

By Rick Dewsbury

Abuse: A worker from the Bobby Roberts Super Circus violently kicks Annie, who suffers with arthritis

The owners of an elephant allegedly caught on camera being beaten by her trainer will face animal cruelty charges, it was revealed today.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it had taken over the prosecution of Bobby and Moira Roberts from Animal Defenders International 'given the public concern over the case' of Anne the elephant.

The pair will appear before Corby Magistrate’s Court, in Northamptonshire, on November 16 charged with causing the elephant unnecessary suffering, failing to take reasonable steps to prevent an employee from causing unnecessary suffering, and failing to ensure the elephant’s needs were met.

The animal was filmed being beaten by her trainer, it is alleged, and is said to have been chained to the ground 24 hours a day.

Another heartless member of staff wields a large stick used to strike Anne repeatedly on her rear

The pair are accused of keeping Anne, a 58-year-old elephant brought from Sri Lanka to The Bobby Roberts Super Circus in Peterborough in the 1950s, chained to the ground at all times.

They are also accused of failing to prevent an employee from repeatedly beating Anne.

A CPS spokesman said: 'Given the public concern over the case, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, has now agreed that the CPS take over and continue the legal proceedings against the Roberts.'

They were originally the focus of a private prosecution by Animal Defenders International (ADI), a worldwide animal welfare organisation, following its undercover investigation between January 21 and February 15 this year.

But ADI’s legal representatives contacted the CPS earlier this month, asking them to take over the prosecution.

Moira Roberts, left, and husband Bobby Roberts, right, the former owners of Anne the elephant who have been charged with animal cruelty

Arthritic Anne is now living at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire to see out her days in a 13-acre paddock, with her owners’ consent.

Jan Creamer, ADI’s chief executive, said: 'We are delighted that the CPS are taking on this prosecution and will assist them as necessary.'

Pictures of Anne apparently being repeatedly stabbed, beaten with a stick and kicked shocked the country when they emerged this year.

The disturbing images came from a secretly shot video which campaigners say lays bare the cruel reality of her life as Britain's last circus elephant.

It showed Anne enduring the abuse while shackled in a dingy barn during the circus's winter break.

Joyful steps: Anne in the elephant sanctuary at Longleat Safari Park which was built after a high-profile campaign for her freedom that raised £340,000

Free at last: Anne the Elephant sprays sand over her body in her new home at Longleat Safari adventure Park

As well as being repeatedly hit with the pitchfork, the 58-year-old elephant also appears to be stabbed in the face with the tool's metal prongs during one attack.

A total of 48 strikes, including kicks to her body and head, were recorded as she was left chained to the spot by her legs

The images provoked a public outcry and the fight for Anne’s freedom even reached Number 10, as actor Brian Blessed and ADI led a delegation to urge David Cameron to bring about a ban on wild animals in circuses.

Members of the public vowed to boycott the Bobby Roberts Super Circus, while wildlife campaigners announced plans to stage a protest outside when the circus tour resumed.

The Mail launched an appeal for Anne which raised £340,000 for an elephant sanctuary at Longleat for Anne.



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