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Animal Defenders International

Circus bosses on trial for cruelty to elephant by worker

Posted: 15 November 2012. Updated: 23 November 2012



The trial starts today of Bobby and Moira Roberts, owners of Bobby Roberts Super Circus, jointly charged with offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, relating to video footage obtained by ADI of the treatment of elephant Anne. The ADI team have been told they may be called as witnesses today or tomorrow.

The video evidence filmed by ADI showed a worker of the Bobby Roberts’ Super Circus kicking and beating their elephant, Anne, at their winter quarters last year. The worker caught on film left the country immediately.

Mr and Mrs Roberts are being jointly charged with a series of offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, to which they have pleaded not guilty:

1. Causing the elephant to suffer unnecessarily, by requiring the elephant to be chained to the ground at all times, contrary to section 4(1) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

2. Failing to take reasonable steps to prevent their employee from causing unnecessary suffering to the elephant, by repeatedly beating it, contrary to section 4(2) of the same Act.

3. Failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that the needs of the elephant were met to the extent required by good practice, contrary to section 9 of the same Act.

This is a test case, the first trial of circus owners and their responsibilities under the ‘duty of care’ detailed in the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Anne is a 59 year old female elephant wild caught in Sri Lanka and bought by the Bobby Roberts’ Super Circus in the 1950s. Anne was transferred to a safari park with the owners’ consent following the release of the ADI video in 2011.

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