Northampton: ‘Elephant owners in court over alleged animal cruelty’

Posted on November 19, 2012


Today (19th November), a news item was posted on titled ‘Elephant owners in court over alleged animal cruelty’.

‘… Footage played to court claims to show pachyderm called Anne being kicked and beaten with pitchfork, at circus –

Secretly filmed footage of a circus elephant being kicked and hit with a pitchfork has been shown at the trial of a husband and wife who are accused of causing the animal unnecessary suffering.

Bobby and Moira Roberts kept the 58-year-old animal, called Anne, constantly chained to the ground and failed to stop an employee from repeatedly beating her, the court was told.

The elephant, which was an attraction at the Bobby Roberts Super Circus, did not receive the medication she needed for arthritis, it was claimed.

Helen Law, prosecuting, showed footage secretly filmed by the animal rights campaign group Animal Defenders International (ADI). The footage appeared to show the animal being kicked and hit with a pitchfork. The legs of the animal could be seen to buckle several times.

Law told Northampton crown court that because she was chained up, Anne “didn’t have the ability to move or exhibit normal behaviour patterns”.

She pointed out that the elephant could be seen swaying or walking backwards and forwards. “This is a sign of distress,” she said. She said that Anne was diagnosed with arthritis in 2003 but said she did not received the medication she needed.

Robert Cogswell, investigations manager at ADI, entered the farm where Anne was kept at Polebrook, Cambridgeshire, at night under a fence and placed a camera in a hole in the barn directly behind the elephant, the court was told.

Filmed between January 21 and February 15 last year, the footage appears to show the animal chained by one foot and one hind leg in the barn. It is said to show Bobby Roberts, 69, supervising as the chains are swapped. On one occasion Bobby Roberts is allegedly seen kicking the elephant’s trunk. On a separate occasion, the groom is allegedly caught kicking Anne’s trunk.

Law alleged that the groom was trained to hit and keep Anne chained to the ground. “The footage shows a near-on absolute lack of supervision from Bobby Roberts,” she said. “Bobby Roberts was quite happy to authorise casual violence towards the elephant,” she added.

ADI released the footage on the internet and contacted the Crown Prosecution Service asking it to prosecute. The CPS did so because of “the public concern over the case” …

Anne, who was brought from Sri Lanka to the circus in the 1950s, has been handed over to Longleat safari park in Wiltshire.

The defendants, of Oundle, Northamptonshire, are charged with causing the elephant unnecessary suffering by leaving her chained to the ground, failing to take steps to prevent an employee causing her suffering and failing to ensure the needs of the animal were met. They deny all the charges, brought under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Moira Roberts, 63, denies any involvement in the care of the elephant or the training of staff. She also denies being Anne’s owner, Law told the court.

Bobby Roberts said the groom did not follow his orders and he was unable to supervise him due to health problems, the prosecutor said.

The trial continues …’

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