Longleat opens its doors to abused circus elephant

Ruth Doherty

It's been a hard 50 years for Britain's last circus elephant - but now Anne has officially retired and arrived at her loving new home in Longleat Safari Park.

At 59, the mistreated elephant is the oldest in Europe, and has spent the last half a century in a miserable metal compound.

The Daily Mail recently revealed secret footage of her Romanian groom beating her and stabbing her with a pitchfork.

But now she has a six-acre enclosure to find peace and tranquility in.

Anne, who has arthritis, left her quarters in Polebrook, Northamptonshire, early yesterday under police escort.

She was transported to the Wiltshire park in a convoy with a vet and elephant specialist.
Jonathan Cracknell, director of animal operations at Longleat, in Wiltshire, said: 'Anne was absolutely fine on the trip. She is settling in well and is very curious and already exploring her new home.

'Her condition is improving all the time and she is responding well to pain relief and can walk much better than she previously could.'

A coalition of animal welfare groups came together to help re-home Anne and, thankfully, she will now live in an enclosure with a herd of rhinos and will have the run of a 13-acre paddock, meadows and water pools if her arthritis allows.

Bobby Roberts Super Circus, the elephant's former owner, agreed to the handover after the secret footage emerged.

Tim Phillips, campaigns director for Animal Defenders International (ADI), the charity which conducted the filming, said: 'Without doubt it is the worldwide outpouring of public horror that has forced the circus to hand over this elephant.'

He said the severely arthritic elephant had been left 'stressed and traumatised' by her treatment but was otherwise unharmed.

'Everyone is overjoyed that Anne is safe and we shall look forward to her having a bright future in her final years,' he said.

'Longleat is a place of safety for her while she is assessed on whether she should move somewhere where she will have more contact with other elephants. The priority at the moment is getting her as fit as possible.'

The charity is now taking advice from lawyers on bringing a private prosecution against the circus under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

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