Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Court case for Anne the elephant set for June 2012

Posted: 1 December 2011. Updated: 1 December 2011

‘Duty of care and responsibility of owners to be tested in landmark case’

Today at a preliminary hearing at Corby Magistrates Court, Bobby and Moira Roberts pleaded not guilty to offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in relation to the mistreatment of “Anne”, who was the last remaining UK circus elephant.

A two day trial has now been set, starting on the 18 June 2012 at Corby Magistrates Court, then the following day at Kettering Magistrates Court.

Animal Defenders International (ADI), the animal protection organisation whose detailed investigation into the welfare of Anne and other animals at the winter quarters of the Roberts’ circus in Peterborough earlier this year has led to the trial, were present today at this landmark case.

Jan Creamer, ADI’s Chief Executive said: “We are pleased that, at long last this case will finally be heard and those ultimately responsible for the management of the business will now be scrutinized for their animal husbandry methods.

“This will be the first trial of a circus under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the case is extremely important, as it should clearly define that owners should take overall, ultimate responsibility for animals in their care, and will be an important test of whether the Act can protect animals in circuses.

“The legislation states that owners have a duty of care to protect their animals from harm and to provide a suitable environment, and even if members of staff are employed, the owners are required to take ultimate responsibility for the care of these animals.

“The duty of care of owners under the Act will be tested, and it will be interesting to see how this will be interpreted and enforced.”

Anne is a 58 year old female elephant brought from Sri Lanka to The Bobby Roberts Super Circus in the 1950s. Anne was subsequently transferred to a safari park with the owners’ consent.


Media contact:

Phil Buckley, Media Relations Director, Animal Defenders International, 07716 018250, 0207 630 3344,


ADI’s detailed investigation took place from 21st January to 15th February 2011.

The private prosecution was commenced by ADI on 18th July 2011 at Northampton Magistrates Court.

Given the public concern over the case, the Director of Public Prosecutions agreed that the CPS take over and continue the legal proceedings against the Roberts.
Mr and Mrs Roberts have been jointly charged with the following offences:

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

Animal Defenders International
With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing the behind-the-scenes suffering in industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals all over the world, educates the public on animals and environmental issues.


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