A CONTROVERSIAL circus rolled into town this week under the cloud of an upcoming animal cruelty trial.
Bobby Roberts’ Super Circus purports to be one of the few remaining ‘traditional’ circuses, but on 18 June owners Bobby and Moira Roberts will go on trial accused of causing unnecessary suffering to a 58-year-old elephant named Anne.
The animal has since been rehomed at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire after animal rights group Animal Defenders International released a video that showed the elephant being severely beaten by a keeper.
However, musical clown David Konyot has leapt to the defence of his employers.
He said: “It’s a fight. There was a groom who had been there all season with no record until suddenly he’s in front of a camera.
“You’re never going to find the guy because we suspect he was paid to do it by someone.
“The guy at Longleat said there’s no evidence of prolonged abuse, this was a one-off.
“There’s no evidence Bobby was cruel. We know it’s a set-up.”
Anne was brought to the UK from Sri Lanka by Bobby Roberts in the 1950s and Mr Konyot said that the circus owner gave his elephant the best available care.
“The elephant is now chained up in Longleat with no-one to talk to, and Bobby doesn’t go to say goodnight to her any more,” he said.
“Anne doesn’t have the personal contact, it’s heartbreaking.
“A few years ago Bobby said we’re not doing photos any more, the girls are getting a bit old.
“But then people said ‘where are the elephants?’
“They demanded it, so they were brought back out.
“If this elephant is mistreated you wouldn’t put her in public, she would have scars, and you wouldn’t put kids next to her because she would lash out.”
The only animals that are currently used in the circus show are a small number of horses and Mr Konyot invited anyone who is interested to visit the stables themselves, which are “the size of Lincolnshire” and to decide for themselves.
He added: “These horses travel about two hours a week, which is a lot less than racehorses do.”
Bobby and Moira Roberts, of Brook Farm, Oundle, Northampshire, are accused of causing unnecessary suffering and failing to restrain an employee at their circus and are also charged with keeping the elephant chained to the ground at all times.
The charges have been brought under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
The trial is listed for two days and is due to be held at Corby Magistrates’ Court on 18 June and Kettering Magistrates’ Court on 19 June.
Last April the Gazette spoke to Bobby and Moira Roberts about the accusations when the circus visited the town and the story can be viewed at www.whitbygazette.co.uk