Protest held outside 'cruelty row' circus in Knutsford

A demo has been held outside a circus after one of its workers was filmed beating an elephant with a pitchfork.

Animal rights campaigners gathered on The Heath in Knutsford, Cheshire, on the second night of the Bobby Roberts Super Circus show.

Animal Defenders International released footage of the attack on 57-year-old Asian elephant, Anne, in a barn in Northamptonshire earlier in the year.

The elephant will now be rehomed at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire.

The circus said it was shocked by the footage.

Moira Roberts, 72, who runs the circus with her 68-year-old husband Bobby and their family, said people who want a ban on all animals in circuses have their own agenda.

She said: "It's like losing one of your children. The reason she's going to Longleat is that we're going to be allowed to be with her, to see her and to spend time with her.

"We feel that the animals are perfectly happy. Anne couldn't have survived if she hadn't been well looked after."

Anne has been in the family-run circus for more than 50 years and no longer appears in public.

The circus said the man seen in the footage, filmed at the circus' winter quarters, would have been sacked had he not disappeared.

The Roberts family believe he may have returned home to Eastern Europe.

Protesters are calling for a ban on the use of all animals in circus acts.

One of those protesting in Knutsford said: "It is fantastic for Anne, obviously, to get out of the circus, but it's not just the elephant it's the other animals as well."

A joint investigation is being carried out by Northamptonshire Police and the RSPCA.

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