A circus owner was found guilty of elephant cruelty after video of the animal’s suffering was revealed, on two counts of unnecessary suffering and one count of failing to meet the creature’s needs.
The circus owner found guilty is 69-year-old Bobby Roberts of Bobby Roberts Super Circus, and the elephant at the center of the case is the last surviving circus elephant in England. A groom at Bobby Roberts Super Circus was videotaped beating the 58-year-old pachyderm Anne with a pitchfork in the clip, but the shocking undercover footage obtained by animal welfare didn’t show the extent of the abuse to which the tortured animal was subject.
The circus owner was also found guilty due to the fact the sick elephant was denied necessary medication for arthritis, and Anne had been kept chained in place constantly while with the Bobby Roberts Super Circus. Roberts’ wife, Moira, was not found guilty by the court.
The circus owner found guilty was given a three-year conditional discharge by the Northampton Crown Court, but was not fined nor ordered to pay any costs in the matter. Prosecutor Richard Crowley explained why charges were brought in the case against Roberts for cruelty carried out by a groom from Romania who is believed to have fled home:
“Not only did Bobby Roberts breach his professional obligations towards Anne, but his neglect and abuse was criminal … He gave instructions for Anne to be chained and took no action to prevent the beatings she had received, failing to provide any training or supervision for the staff member responsible for her.”
Animal rights activists say the prosecution wasn’t enough, and that suffering will continue until such time the use of wild animals in the circus is discontinued — advocate Jan Creamer explained:
“Inspection after inspection fails to identify this abuse… These practices will not stop until the use of wild animals in circuses is prohibited by law.”
Abuse of circus animals and conditions that are widely decried are also widespread, with circus elephants often the subject of extreme cruelty in the controversial practice of using them for the traveling shows.
Before the circus owner was found guilty, Anne was rehomed at a sanctuary to live out her days abuse free.