Court shown footage of cruelty to a circus elephant

Bobby and Moira Roberts. Photo credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire
Bobby and Moira Roberts. Photo credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire
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Footage of a circus elephant being kicked and hit with a pitchfork in Polebrook was shown at the trial today (Monday) of a couple accused of causing it unnecessary suffering.

Bobby and Moira Roberts appeared at Northampton Crown Court accused of having kept the 58-year-old Asian elephant, called Anne, constantly chained to the ground at the Bobby Roberts Super Circus in Polebrook.

The couple, in their 60s, of Brook Farm, Oundle, are also accused of failing to prevent an employee from repeatedly beating Anne and failing to ensure the elephant’s needs were met.

Helen Law, prosecuting, played video footage filmed by Animal Defenders International (ADI) to jurors which showed the animal being struck several times by staff, kicked and hit with the pitchfork.

The legs of the animal, who prosecution allege was not receiving medication for its arthritis, could also be seen to buckle several times in the footage filmed covertly by the animal welfare organisation.

The footage, filmed between January 21 and February 15 last year, showed the elephant chained by one foot and one hind leg in a barn.

It also showed Bobby Roberts supervising the chains being swapped from opposing leg to opposing leg by the groom and him kicking the elephant’s trunk.

Fourteen days later, the footage shows the groom kicking the animal’s trunk.

The elephant can be seen to be kicked in the side and struck with a pitchfork several times as well as kicked in the trunk on a number of occasions during the footage.

Ms Law said: “The footage shows a near-on absolute lack of supervision from Bobby Roberts.

“Bobby Roberts was quite happy to authorise casual violence towards the elephant.”

She alleged that the groom was trained to hit and keep Anne chained to the ground.

Ms Law added that Bobby Roberts said that members of staff were adequately trained, that the groom did not follow his orders and he was unable to supervise him due to health problems which stopped him working in the barn as much.

The defendants deny all the charges.

The case continues.