10/11/2011 09:05 GMT | Updated 10/01/2012 05:12 GMT

Animal Cruelty: 'Chained And Beaten' Circus Elephant Leads To Charges For Peterborough Couple

The owners of a circus elephant called Anne have been charged with causing unnecessary suffering to the animal.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it had taken over the prosecution of Bobby and Moira Roberts from Animal Defenders International (ADI) "given the public concern over the case".

The pair will appear before Corby Magistrates' Court on November 16 charged with causing the elephant unnecessary suffering, failing to take reasonable steps to prevent an employee from causing unnecessary suffering, and failing to ensure the elephant's needs were met.

The pair are accused of keeping Anne, a 58-year-old elephant brought from Sri Lanka to The Bobby Roberts Super Circus in Peterborough in the 1950s, chained to the ground at all times.

They are also accused of failing to prevent an employee from repeatedly beating Anne.

A CPS spokesman said: "Given the public concern over the case, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, has now agreed that the CPS take over and continue the legal proceedings against the Roberts."

They were originally the focus of a private prosecution by Animal Defenders International (ADI), a worldwide animal welfare organisation, following its undercover investigation between January 21 and February 15 this year.

But ADI's legal representatives contacted the CPS earlier this month, asking them to take over the prosecution.

Arthritic Anne is now living at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire to see out her days in a 13-acre paddock, with her owners' consent.

Jan Creamer, ADI's chief executive, said: "We are delighted that the CPS are taking on this prosecution and will assist them as necessary."