Circus owners prosecuted for causing unnecessary suffering

The owners of a circus elephant called Anne have been charged with causing unnecessary suffering to the animal.

Bobby Robert’s Circus visited Whitby in April and spoke to the Gazette about the investigation by animal right’s activists, claiming they were innocent and that the abuse was carried out by a “cruel” employee.

However the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has deemed there to be enough information for them to take over the prosecution of Bobby and Moira Roberts, “given the public concern over the case”.

The pair will appear before Corby Magistrates’ Court on November 16 charged with causing the elephant unnecessary suffering, failing to take reasonable steps to prevent an employee from causing unnecessary suffering, and failing to ensure the elephant’s needs were met.

The pair are accused of keeping Anne, a 58-year-old elephant brought from Sri Lanka to The Bobby Roberts Super Circus in Peterborough in the 1950s, chained to the ground at all times.

They are also accused of failing to prevent an employee from repeatedly beating Anne.

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.”

They were originally the focus of a private prosecution by Animal Defenders International (ADI), a worldwide animal welfare organisation, following its undercover investigation between January 21 and February 15 this year.

But ADI’s legal representatives contacted the CPS earlier this month, asking them to take over the prosecution.

Arthritic Anne is now living at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire to see out her days in a 13-acre paddock, with her owners’ consent.

Jan Creamer, ADI’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted that the CPS are taking on this prosecution and will assist them as necessary.”