Captive elephants in the United Kingdom

From WikiAnimal


Anne the elephant is a 60-70 year old Asian elephant who lives at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire, England. She is the only elephant in the park and has not seen another elephant for almost two decades. She is also the last circus elephant in the UK, having spent 55 years performing in the Bobby Roberts Super Circus until she was rescued in 2011.[1]

Anne's rescue was prompted by an undercover investigation by Animal Defenders International (ADI), which revealed the shocking abuse she suffered at the hands of circus staff. The footage showed Anne being hit and stabbed with a pitchfork, chained to the ground, and living in a filthy barn. Her former owner, Bobby Roberts, was found guilty of three counts of unnecessary harm to a performing elephant and given a conditional discharge.

Anne was then moved to Longleat, where she received veterinary care and a custom-built enclosure with heating, bedding, and enrichment. Longleat claimed that Anne's move was a temporary arrangement until a suitable sanctuary could be found for her. However, ten years later, Anne is still at Longleat and has not been given the opportunity to meet other elephants or live in a more natural environment.

Animal activists and supporters, including actress Joanna Lumley, have been campaigning for Anne to be re-homed to Elephant Haven, a sanctuary in Limousin, France, that is ready to welcome her and other elephants. Elephant Haven has 70 acres of land with trees, hills, ponds, and shelters. It also has experienced staff and veterinarians who can provide specialized care for elderly and arthritic elephants like Anne.

Anne has been deprived of a natural social life for most of her life and has suffered from loneliness and boredom.

Longleat has refused to let Anne go, arguing that she is too old and frail to travel and that she would not cope well with being introduced to other elephants. They also claim that Anne is happy and comfortable at Longleat and that moving her would cause her more stress and harm than good. However, these arguments have been disputed by Elephant Haven and other experts who say that Anne could benefit from a warmer climate, more space, more sunlight, more physical activity, and more social interaction.

Anne's supporters are not asking for her to be moved immediately, but rather for her to be assessed by an independent expert who can determine whether she is fit enough to make the journey and whether she would thrive at Elephant Haven. They believe that Anne deserves a chance at a new life after all the suffering she has endured and that she should not spend her remaining years alone in captivity.

See also