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Elephant owners on cruelty charges

Two circus owners have been charged with causing unnecessary suffering to an arthritic 58-year-old elephant in light of public concern at the creature's torment.

The elephant, who was shipped into Britain from Sri Lanka in the 1950s, is alleged to have been kept chained to the ground at all times by Bobby and Moira Roberts.

The pressure group Animal Defenders International (ADI) had brought a private prosecution against the couple, who run the Bobby Roberts Super Circus, but the Crown Prosecution Service has now taken up the case.

The couple are due to appear before Corby magistrates' court on 16 November. They are also charged with failing to take reasonable steps to prevent an employee from causing unnecessary suffering to Anne and failing to ensure her needs were met.

The animal has been taken into the care of Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire, where she has 13 acres of land.

The case was brought against the couple after undercover filming by the ADI showed Anne allegedly being hit and kicked by a circus assistant. She was hit 48 times over three weeks, the animal rights group claimed.

Mrs Roberts, 72, said she and her husband were "shocked and horrified" at the harm inflicted on Anne. "She is part of the family. She hasn't performed for 10 years and we certainly don't earn any money from her," she said.

Jan Creamer, chief executive of ADI, said: "We are delighted the CPS is taking on this prosecution."