Britain's last circus elephant gets new luxury home

New home for saved circus elephant

Britain's last circus elephant has packed her trunk and moved into a luxurious home at Longleat Safari Park.

Anne the elephant moved to the Wiltshire park four years ago after Animal Defenders International managed to take a secret film of her being abused by her groom.

Since then hundreds of thousands of pounds has been donated by well-wishers to build Anne, who was Britain's last circus elephant, a new home.

Last week Anne, who is nearly 60, was able to walk to her luxurious new purpose-built accommodation rather than be transported. Words: PA

It took the Asian elephant under an hour to make the 800 metre journey and was accompanied by a team of experts, a vet and a specialist osteopath.

Zoological osteopath Tony Nevin, who has been treating Anne, used a high definition thermal camera to scan her muscle activity during the walk and to continually access her loco motor function.

"The move went without a hitch, and Anne actually felt better than ever when I examined her body framework once she had settled into the new house, following a very contented dust bath," he said.

"She is a phenomenal individual, as are the dedicated staff that look after her 24/7."

New home for saved circus elephant

Anne's new home includes a 994-square-metre heated accommodation area with deep sand floors, natural sky light panels, automated feeding systems and a specialist treatment area.

All of her favourite toys and equipment were also moved up to the new home, including boomer ball, a scratching rack and 'Ketrunk' - a game devised by her keepers for her to work for her food and improve her trunk muscles, similar to the popular family game Kerplunk.

Whilst Anne gets to know her new spacious indoor surroundings, the final touches are being put into place on her outdoor space which features a large grassy paddock, rocks, log piles, a giant browse frame, sandpit and plunge pool.

It is hoped the outdoor space will be fully completed to coincide with some warmer weather for Anne to come outside and enjoy.

Jon Cracknell, Longleat's director of animal operations, said Anne will share her new home with three Nubian goats.

New home for saved circus elephant

"The need of companionship is a real one and one that we regularly review and discuss," Mr Cracknell said.

"Elephants are a social species and we recognise the importance of a suitable companion in Anne's case.

"We acknowledge that any species, including goats, cannot replace the behavioural opportunities that another elephant can provide but we have to balance Anne's severe orthopaedic problems and her ability to thrive with another elephant.

"The main challenge being that, following veterinary advice, we are concerned she physically does not have the ability to stand up to any normal social interactions with new elephants and it could prove dangerous for Anne if mixed with another elephant, even in a controlled situation.

"The new house does have the capacity for additional elephants and this is something we have been very open about and we would consider the need of other elephants that need a home like Anne did on a case-by-case basis.

"In such a case this would be reviewed and risk assessed taking in to consideration Anne's needs as well as those of any other additional elephants.

"Anne did amazingly well last week - she took it slowly and steadily at her own pace. Today she is recovering from the walk which was only 800 metres but for her was a marathon.

"Despite this she is determined to enjoy her new home and explore it in between her well-earned rests."

Three years ago circus owner Bobby Roberts received a conditional discharge after being convicted of three animal cruelty charges relating to Anne.

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