Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Animal Defenders International comments on outcome of Anne the elephant trial

Posted: 23 November 2012. Updated: 23 November 2012

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.”

“We 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”


Media contact
Angie Greenaway, Animal Defenders International
Tel: 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548

ADI expose of Anne the elephant
View footage from ADI’s 2011 investigation which exposed Anne’s brutal treatment at the winter quarters of Bobby Roberts Super Circus.
Background to the trial
A private prosecution was commenced by ADI in July 2011 but, given the public concern over the case, the Director of Public Prosecutions agreed in November 2011 that the CPS take over and continue the legal proceedings against the Roberts.

Bobby and Moira Roberts were 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.

Anne the elephant – a brief background
For over 15 years, ADI has been following the plight of Anne the elephant, who was brought from Sri Lanka to the Bobby Roberts Super Circus in the 1950s.

For decades Anne toured the UK every summer with two other Asian elephants, Janey and Beverley, until they both died suddenly in 2001.

When ADI instructed a vet to check on Anne in 2002, when we found her in an appalling condition, he advised us that “she appeared to be suffering from muscle wastage and severe hind leg lameness”, adding that the travel was likely to be “a huge strain on her weakened hind legs”. He concluded that it was “in Anne’s best welfare interests if she is retired from circus life”.

No legal avenue was available for ADI to secure Anne’s freedom at that time and so, although under veterinary supervision she began to recover, she continued to struggle with her arthritis and display stereotypical behaviour.

In recent years, despite being ‘retired’, Anne continued to tour with the circus, being brought out during the show interval and made to pose for photos with paying members of the public.

Animal Defenders International
With offices in London, Los Angeles, 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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