Anne the Elephant moves to new home

The circus elephant filmed apparently being kicked and hit with a pitchfork has been moved to her new home at Longleat Safari Park.

Anne, an elderly performing elephant, was ferried by a specialist team of handlers from her winter quarters in Polebrook, Northamptonshire, to the Wiltshire wildlife attraction.

Bobby Roberts Super Circus, the elephant's former owner, agreed to the handover after a Romanian employee was secretly filmed apparently abusing her.  He has now left the company.

Anne, who has travelled thousands of miles during her performing career, was not sedated during the journey and was accompanied by a vet and elephant specialist from the safari park, said Tim Phillips, campaigns director for Animal Defenders International (ADI), the charity which conducted the filming.

"Without doubt it is the worldwide outpouring of public horror that has forced the circus to hand over this elephant,'' Mr Phillips said.

"She was deemed fit to travel by the vet on Friday and preparations to move her were made as quickly as possible,'' he said.

He said the severely arthritic elephant had been left "stressed and traumatised'' by her treatment but was otherwise unharmed. He said no money changed hands between Longleat and the circus.

"Everyone is overjoyed that Anne is safe and we shall look forward to her having a bright future in her final years,'' he said.

"Longleat is a place of safety for her while she is assessed on whether she should move somewhere where she will have more contact with other elephants.''

Mr Phillips added: "The priority at the moment is getting her as fit as possible.''

ADI suspected Anne had been subject to mistreatment for up to 10 years until the charity secured footage of her abuse.

He said Mr Roberts helped load the elephant on to the specialist transporter this morning.

Longleat had spent the week since the footage's release bringing a large disused elephant enclosure into use. Anne will be placed under round-the-clock observation for at least a week by a team of three keepers. It is hoped she will be on view to the public in due course.

The charity is now taking advice from lawyers on bringing a private prosecution against the circus under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.