This shocking footage secured by Animal Defenders International, was shot over a three & a half week period from a camera observing the activity in the barn of Bobby Roberts Circus, at a farm in Polebrook, Northamptonshire; where the animals are kept when not touring. The ADI, who have been following Annie's (Anne) plight for many years, planted the device due to concerns over the welfare of Anne, a 57 year old elephant; the last remaining elephant in an English circus.
This recent video show's a high level of violence & serious animal husbandry flaws. Incidents included beating horses, camels & even spitting at them. The video show's Anne being hit a total of 48 times, including kicks to Anne's body & head. As well as being repeatedly hit with the pitchfork by one worker employed to feed and look after her, the 58-year-old elephant also appears to be stabbed in the face with the tool's metal prongs during one vicious attack.
The disturbing footage shows Anne, who is constantly chained for the entire period of filming by her front & back arthritic leg. Anne can barely take a step forwards or backwards. Her chains were only changed to different legs twice; ADI believes this will clearly cause her pain & discomfort. Campaigners claimed shackling Anne with leg irons is particularly cruel because she suffers arthritis and her movements are already badly hampered
The proprietor of this "so called super circus" Bobby Roberts" has always claimed publicly to take good care of Annie as "she is a family pet & part of the family". If this is so how could he fail to notice the amount of abuse happening, didn't he notice the marks on Anne's body?
The ADI have repeatedly called for circus owner Bobby Roberts to hand over Anne so she can live out her days in a wildlife sanctuary.
But Mr. Roberts, who's Super Circus began its latest tour on Thursday, insists the elephant is 'part of the family' and to separate her from the circus would cause her to 'pine away and die'.
The Asian elephant has been travelling with the Bobby Roberts Super Circus since the 1950s when she was bought by Mr. Roberts's parents for around %uFFFD3,000. At the time she was one of many performing elephants but since then most circuses have stopped using animals.
In 2005, the RSPCA and the Government refused to intervene in her case after claims that she was being kept in appalling conditions.
Her plight then was revealed by the Mail on Sunday and angry readers sent more than 1,500 letters to Ben Bradshaw, then Labour Animal Health and Welfare Minister. However ministry vets reported that Anne was in good health and kept clean and the RSPCA said there was no proof that she was a victim of unnecessary suffering.
Last Year, Animal Defenders International released shocking findings of an investigation into the Great British Circus. A year on & the public are more than ever behind a ban on wild animals in circuses. Governments own public consultation in March 2010 found that an overwhelming 94.5% of the public want to see a ban on wild animals in circuses and over 170 MPs have now signed Early Day Motion 403 calling on the Government to ban wild animal acts. A recent parliamentary poll conducted by ADI found that 63% of MPs would like to see a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses and only 14% disagreed.
ADI has now exposed the shocking abuse of animals in UK circuses from several random undercover investigations over the last fifteen years. Only recently, in 2009, the beating of elephants at the Great British Circus was exposed and now in 2011 Bobby Roberts Super Circus shows that this is a way of life at the circus. A clear pattern has been proven and this time the government needs to act.
Tim Phillips, ADI's Campaigns Director said: "The release of this footage stops any attempt by UK government to ignore the will of the public. It is clear that self-regulation is not an option in this industry".
"Once again, we have exposed that cruelty and deprivation is rife within the circus industry. We have also established that self regulation is not a viable option as the government would be asking circuses like Bobby Roberts or the Great British Circus to regulate themselves. That would be a farce, and the animals will continue to suffer abuse."
ADI has been concerned for Annie's welfare for many years and have followed her tragic plight. Poor Annie has been with the circus for over 50 years since she was baby, having been caught in the wild and torn from her family. Elephants are social and extremely intelligent so this has been a living hell for her. At last we have managed to expose this circus operation for the cruel farce that it is and never again can Roberts preach about animal welfare and how well his animals are cared for.
Tim concluded: "Our latest investigation shows how animals like elephants suffer in the travelling circus. In the name of entertainment they are beaten, jabbed with hooks and hit with pitchforks, chained up for hours every day, and pushed into metal boxes each week where they remain for hours on end whilst the circus moves to another site. And when they are meant to be resting in their winter quarters the abuse and cruelty continues".
"The public wants to see a ban, Parliament wants a ban, and animal protection groups want a ban. A ban is the only way to put an end, once and for all, to this deplorable violence and deprivation, and government must act now."
The Bobby Roberts Super Circus began its UK tour on the 24 March. Potential visitors are being asked to vote with their feet and stay away.
Having collected the damning evidence, ADI is discussing the potential for legal action with its lawyers. Jan Creamer who leads ADI has called on police to examine the video footage with a view to investigating the circus for offences under the Animal Welfare Act.
Confronted with the evidence Bobby Roberts said he would fire the Romanian groom paid %uFFFD8,000 a year to care for Anne. Mr. Roberts said he was disgusted and couldn't believe the abuse happened right under his nose.
ADI is calling on all supporters to contact their MP and ask them to sign EDM 403 Wild Animals in Circuses: it is vital the new Government is pushed to pursue a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.
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