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article imageOp-Ed: No justice for Anne the elephant

By Richard Smith     Nov 28, 2012 in Environment
Having lived in the UK until the age of 23, I feel fortunate to have left. The justice system is appalling, and as always the victim receives little to no justice.
This time the victim who received little to no justice from the British justice system was Anne the elephant, an elephant who quickly became loved by the public, as well as the media; and yet the system fails here – yes, I’m upset again, and here’s why.
During January and February of 2011 Animal Defenders International (ADI) covertly filmed Anne the elephant, who suffers greatly from arthritis, being subjected to a heinous amount of abuse. The abuse documented included being punched and kicked in the body and head no less than 48 times, as well as receiving beatings with brush handles and metal pitchforks. Other animals were also seen to be the victim of abuse in the video including horses, ponies and camels.
Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse for poor Anne, it can. As previously mentioned, Anne is extremely arthritic. The video shows Anne consistently chained by her arthritic leg with just enough room for her to take a single step forward, and a single step back, and not once was her medicine to ease her arthritic pain administered. Elephants are roaming animals, and have been known to roam as much as 10 miles a day in the wild; being subjected to such little exercise and movement is barbaric for such an animal.
the video can be seen here, be warned, it is hard to watch.
On November 23rd 2012, Bobby Roberts, owner of the circus was found guilty under the British Animal Welfare Act, this sounds like justice right? Wrong. Mr. Roberts sentence was a 3-year conditional discharge and no fine, he also did not receive a ban on keeping animals. Disgraceful; this is not justice, but a travesty of justice.
The Judge stated that Anne was left chained for "an excessive period of time" under Mr. Roberts’s knowledge and went on to say that
"During the time that Anne was chained she did not have sufficient space and ability to move as required by good practice and this I regard as a very serious problem,"
However, it is believed the reason the sentencing was nothing short of a joke, was due the judges belief that the evidence had been “sat on” for to long, which led the him to believe "[…] that Anne's welfare was only a part of the objective by ADI; they have a wider agenda." Personally I find this offensive. Regardless of the length of time the video evidence had been sat on, regardless if the ADI have a higher agenda, this elephant suffered inhumane treatment at the hands of these people, and it was evidently documented. The judges responsibility was to hand out a sentence that fitted the crime, he didn’t, which left animal activists and environmentalists once again with the belief that the justice system will not stand up and be a voice for innocent animals who can not defend themselves.
After the sentencing the ADI Chief Executive, Jan Creamer made the following public statement.
“Despite the considerable suffering caused to Anne the elephant, the sentencing meted out to Mr Roberts is derisory and provides no faith that the Animal Welfare Act can protect animals in circuses.”
I urge anyone who wants to see an end to circus cruelty to get involved with your local groups, petition your local Councillor, MP, MLA, Senator, Governor etc. Let them know that you will not, and cannot, support circuses with animals any longer.
I would like to end this story of injustice on a happier note. What happened to Anne you may be asking? Anne was taken from the circus as Mr Roberts surrendered her immediately follow the release of the video in early April 2011 and placed in Longleat Safari Park. Anne is doing well, she continues to bond with her new handlers, as well as receiving physiotherapy weekly for her arthritis, and very much has a new lease on life. she can be seen playing, rolling, and sometimes even jogging in the grass in her enclosure; she is wonderful to see. If you watched the first video, please watch this one to put a little bit of sunshine back in your heart.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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