Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Anne: The UK’s last circus elephant

Posted: 17 June 2005


Anne the elephant is 52 years old, suffers from arthritis, and is touring the UK with Bobby Roberts Super Circus. For over ten years ADI have been following the plight of this tragic elephant, including flying a vet to her when she became desperately ill.

Anne’s tragic story symbolises the plight of circus animals. She lives in a wholly unnatural environment, either chained by the legs or living in a small enclosure. When the circus moves from place to place, as it does most weeks, she spends unbearably long hours shut in her transporter – up to nineteen hours at a time.

For decades, Anne has toured the UK every summer with two other Asian elephants, Janey and Beverley; but when they died, this social animal was left utterly alone. A metal hook on the end of a bar (an elephant hook, or ankus) is dug into Anne’s skin to make her comply with commands. ADI has filmed a worker hooking Anne with some considerable force.

How can this be legal?

It seems hard to believe, but in 1997, there were 16 elephants touring the UK with circuses. Then in January 1998, ADI released the findings of an 18-month undercover investigation of the use of animals in circuses. ADI Field Officer had infiltrated 13 circuses and their training establishments. The horrific video footage sent a shock wave around the world, people turned away from animal circuses, and cities and countries from Asia to South America have banned animal circuses as a result.

Within months of the launch of ADI’s ‘Ugliest Show on Earth’ video the number of animal circuses in the UK halved, and they have continued to decline every year since. The elephants have steadily been sold, retired or died – only Anne remains.

A 2004 NOP opinion poll commissioned by ADI revealed that 63% of the public want to see all animal acts banned from circuses (exotic animals like Anne and domestic animals like horses) – only 8% disagreed. A previous (1999) MORI opinion poll commissioned by ADI revealed 72% wanted wild animals banned.

The simple fact is that even with the best will in the world travelling circuses cannot adequately provide for the needs of these animals. Yet the treatment of Anne remains completely legal.

Incredibly, the Government’s Animal Welfare Bill which is due to be presented to Parliament later this year will do nothing to protect animals like poor Anne.

Yet a Select Committee of 17 MPs from all political parties reviewed the draft of the proposed Bill last year and agreed that, at the very least, wild animal acts should be prohibited from circuses. However the Government department responsible for the Bill, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has refused thus far to bring in such a measure.

We desperately need your help to save Anne, but also to end the suffering of circus animals in the UK once and for all.

ADI has rescued and rehomed numerous circus animals and is offering to find a home and relocate Anne. She’s performed for Bobby Roberts Super Circus for years – now let her enjoy her last years in peace, in a better climate and environment and in the company of her own kind.


Help us end Anne’s torment and outlaw circus suffering

The summer she almost died on tour – excerpts from Anne’s Diary

Download our briefing: Animal Circuses and the Animal Welfare Bill

Shocking video of animal cruelty presented to the Prime Minister

Select Committee says ban wild animal acts

Defra says it will not ban wild animal acts

Animal circuses: Evidence of suffering and abuse

Animal circuses: Opinions

Animal circuses: Circuses and the UK Animal Welfare Bill

Animal circus: Video evidence of violence towards animals

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