Elephant cruelty case: Bobby Roberts’ Circus owners charged
Anne the elephant was moved to Longleat Safari Park earlier this year
Two circus owners have been charged with causing unnecessary suffering to an elephant.
Action was originally brought by Animal Defenders International (ADI) which investigated the elephant’s welfare at Bobby Roberts’ circus in Peterborough.
The Crown Prosecution Service said it had now taken over the prosecution of husband and wife Bobby and Moira Roberts, who run the circus.
The elephant, Anne, was later moved to Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire.
Mr and Mrs Roberts will appear before Corby Magistrates’ Court, in Northamptonshire, on 16 November.
Shock and dismay
They are accused of keeping the 58-year-old elephant chained to the ground at all times.
They are also accused of failing to prevent an employee from repeatedly beating Anne.
The elephant was brought from Sri Lanka to The Bobby Roberts Super Circus in Peterborough in the 1950s.
A CPS spokesman said: “Given the public concern over the case, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, has now agreed that the CPS take over and continue the legal proceedings against the Roberts.”
Moira Roberts told the BBC News website: “We are shocked and dismayed, we honestly felt this would get thrown out.
“We’ve done nothing wrong. It’s been the worst year of our lives.
“We’ve been in business a long time and financially and mentally we’ve had the worst year of our lives.”
The ADI, a worldwide animal welfare organisation, carried out an undercover investigation between 21 January and 15 February this year and filmed the elephant in a barn in Polebrook, Northamptonshire.
Jan Creamer, ADI chief executive, said: “We are delighted that the CPS are taking on this prosecution and will assist them as necessary.”
CPS STATEMENT ON ANNE THE ELEPHANT
The Crown Prosecution Service has today agreed to take on the prosecution of Bobby and Moira Roberts in relation to the mistreatment of their circus elephant “Anne”.
The prosecution was originally brought as a private prosecution by Animal Defenders International (ADI), a worldwide animal welfare organisation which carried out an investigation into Anne’s welfare at the Roberts’ circus in Peterborough during the period of 21st January to 15th February 2011.
Earlier this month, the CPS was approached by the legal representatives in the case with a view to the CPS taking over the prosecution. Given the public concern over the case, the Director of Public Prosecutions has now agreed that the CPS take over and continue the legal proceedings against the Roberts.
Mr and Mrs Roberts are 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
The private prosecution was commenced by ADI on 18th July 2011 at Northampton Magistrates Court. Now that the CPS is prosecuting the case, the adjourned first appearance will take place at Corby Magistrates Court on 16th November. At that hearing the court is likely to give directions in preparation for the trial.
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. These defendants have the right to a fair trial. It is important that nothing should be reported which could prejudice their trial.
ADI calls for Anne the elephant’s plight to become symbolic of UK wild animals in circuses ban
Source: Animal Defenders International - press release
Sir Paul McCartney pledges support for ADI’s campaign
Following the announcement by the Crown Prosecution Service that it has agreed to take on the prosecution of Bobby and Moira Roberts in relation to the mistreatment of their circus elephant Anne, Animal Defenders International (ADI) is now calling for her plight to become symbolic of a UK wild animal circus ban.
And Sir Paul McCartney has pledged his support to ADI’s campaign.
Sir Paul said: “I hate to see wild animals in circuses. It is heartbreaking to see these poor animals confined in small cages and carted around the country with little respect for their welfare and well-being. I have made my feelings known previously on this subject and I believe an outright ban is long overdue.”
Jan Creamer, ADI’s Chief Executive said: “We are very grateful to Sir Paul for supporting our campaign and helping to highlight the plight of wild animals currently languishing in UK circuses during this crucial time.
“Government has recently announced that a ban is not an immediate possibility and has decided to proceed with a licensing system instead. This decision flies in the face of what MPs and the British public demand and it is high time that this Government started listening to the will of the country.
“Let’s make Anne the elephant symbolic of a UK ban and ban the use of wild animals in circuses for good.”
In June this year, a backbench debate saw over 50 MPs from all of the major parties vote unanimously for a motion tabled by Mark Pritchard MP, calling on the Government to ban the use of wild animals in circuses by July 2012.
Following the Parliamentary recess, MPs have continued to put pressure on the Government, with cross-party MPs tabling Parliamentary Questions on the issue of wild animals in circuses and ADI is continuing to work with them.
Zac Goldsmith, Tory MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston said: “A motion calling for a ban passed unopposed through Parliament, and is backed by a big majority of people. I sincerely hope the Government will take steps now to implement that ban for the sake of the animals involved.”
Adrian Sanders, the Liberal Democrat MP for Torbay said: “The will of parliament as expressed on the 23 June 2011 is not being actioned by the Government through its proposed licensing system. It falls well short of the welfare standards parliament demanded.”
Kerry McCarthy, the Labour MP for Bristol East said: “A ban on the use of wild animals in circuses is long overdue. The old fashioned practice of removing wild animals from their natural environments for the purpose of entertaining an audience is inhumane and cruel. Behind the curtains the brutality that these wild animals receive is utterly deplorable and should have no place in our society. I am urging the Government to act now, the overwhelming support this campaign has received demonstrates that the public agrees that this outdated and cruel form of entertainment should be banned without delay.”
Earlier this year, ADI released the results of its independent online poll carried out by YouGov, which asked impartial participants aged over 18 to what extent they would support or oppose a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. A massive 72% of the public backed a ban with only 8% against – almost 3 out 4 members of the public therefore wanted a ban.
In 2010, a public consultation by Defra (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) resulted in a huge 94.5% public support for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.
National measures to prohibit or limit the use of animals in circuses have already been adopted in Bolivia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Luxembourg, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, Singapore, Costa Rica, India and Israel and similar laws are being discussed in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Greece.
Jan concluded: “All of these countries have looked at the evidence and then taken the right decision for animal welfare and protection.
It is time that the UK Government now did the same.”