Footage of a circus elephant being kicked and hit with a pitchfork was shown at the trial of a husband and wife from Oundle who are accused of causing it unnecessary suffering.
Bobby and Moira Roberts appeared at Northampton Crown Court accused of having kept the 58-year-old Asian elephant, Anne, constantly chained to the ground at the Bobby Roberts Super Circus in Polebrook, near Oundle.
The couple, who are in their 60s, are also accused of failing to prevent an employee from repeatedly beating Anne and failing to ensure the elephant’s needs were met.
Opening the case for the prosecution, Helen Law played video footage, filmed by Animal Defenders International, to Northampton Crown Court which showed the animal being struck several times by staff, kicked and hit with the pitchfork.
The legs of the animal, who prosecution allege was not receiving medication for its arthritis, could also be seen to buckle several times in the footage filmed covertly by the animal welfare organisation.
The footage, filmed between January 21 and February 15 last year, showed the protected animal chained by one foot and one hind leg in a barn on the farm.
It also showed Bobby Roberts supervising the chains being swapped from opposing leg to opposing leg by the groom and him kicking the elephant’s trunk. Fourteen days later, the footage shows the groom kicking the animal’s trunk.
The elephant can be seen to be kicked in the side and struck with a pitchfork several times during the footage and can also be seen to be kicked in the trunk on a number of occasions.
Anne, who was brought from Sri Lanka to the circus in Polebrook, Cambridgeshire, in the 1950s, has since been handed over to Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire by the couple.
The trial continues.