Yorkshire Agricultural Society cancel Bobby Roberts Circus over concerns

29 March 2011

The Yorkshire Agricultural Society has cancelled the Bobby Roberts Circus at the Great Yorkshire Show ground following allegations at the weekend regarding treatment of one of the circus elephants.

The elephant was never part of the show at Harrogate and is retired. The North Yorkshire Agricultural Society does follow strict rules around the use of animals in performances and they were being followed for this event.

Nigel Pulling, Chief Executive said: “In the light of the film footage we have contacted the organisers and said that we do not wish the circus to go ahead at the showground and a cheque with a full refund is being sent. With regard to circuses, we have had a “no animals in performances other than horses” for at least 10 years and were horrified at what we saw. Animal welfare is paramount, which as an agricultural charity, is particularly important to us.”




  1. I find the decision to be purley based on worry of how many protestors may invade their grounds rather then animal welfare. I find it totaly unacceptable to blame Mr Roberts or his family in way.
    500 hours of footage was captured and no member of the Roberts family was captured witnessing abuse or carrying out abuse.
    I beleive animal welfare is important at this circus, and a top vet has now confirmed Anne has in fact lived for 17 years longer then most elephants in captivity. hardly a sign that the animal has lived a life of distress.

    • Having animal based circus’s in any way shape or form is WRONG…and you’re saying that all the cruel footage of this poor excuse for a human being inflicting pain on this fantastic animal is a total lie?….you’re as bad as he is!

        • I find this entire circus business with exotic animals, or all animals actually, unacceptable. Do you work there, Ryan? Wasn’t the footage of Anne being beaten not enough for you? *puke*

        • Too right Jackie! This poor creature has had the most miserable life. Let’s hope her last years are full of love and care.

    • This is an excellent decision and I hope many other venues will follow suit. The abuse that is shown on this video is horrific and sadly goes on in all animal circuses. It is notoriously difficult to gain evidence of abuse of animals in the circus due to the very closed community agencies have to rely on whistleblowers or covert evidence gathering.

      It is not acceptable for any animal to be abused in this way and they are not here for our entertainment.

      Ryan Wallow, you will find that under animal welfare law Bobby Roberts is fully responsible for Anne’s abuse whether he witnessed it or took part at all. He is culpable. There is also evidence dating back many years implicating Bobby Roberts in teh abuse of Anne and other animals.

    • What a load of rubbish. It is always the owners responsibilty to ensure the welfare of their animals. Roberts says Anne is part of his family, which suggests he has a fair amount of contact with her. If the abuse was only at the hands of this one ‘groom’, who has only been there a relatively short time, then her behaviour would have changed when the abuse began and he would have noticed something was wrong. This either means he was aware, or the abuse has been there all along.

    • Roberts circus are responsible for overseeing what their employess are doing, just like any other business!
      What sort of people think it acceptable for animals to perform ‘tricks’ for their entertainment? stupid selfish people!

    • Ryan, you need to get a reality check pal,your statemant is rediculous!! If Anne is that important to her owners why didn’t they install cctv to keep a check on her and not leave it to ADI,they are ultimately responsible for here well being.Have a think about it !!

    • Are you kidding? Just because the family wasn’t directly involved doesn’t make them any less guilty, just because the elephant lived doesn’t mean it’s okay. If animal welfare was really their priority they should have been checking on the “caregivers”. Ignorance is no excuse.

    • I commend the YAS decision.
      Ryan, the Roberts’ ARE completely to blame. They have kept this animal in appalling conditions for decades. There have been welfare concerns about Anne going back years – sadly never acted upon. Mr Roberts was seen in this video standing over Anne who had been chained in the same position, by the same 2 legs for weeks. There is also evidence that her diet was completely inadequate. I’m not defending the groom in any way, but the long-term neglect of this animal at the hands of it’s ‘owners’ is as bad, if not worse than the attack.

    • Quote… “I find it totaly unacceptable to blame Mr Roberts or his family in way.”

      I cannot agree with this. The Circus is owned and run by them so they ARE responsible. They are responsible for hiring staff and have ultimate responsibility for the animals in their care because this is their business. This responsibility takes nothing away from the responsibility of individual employees, which in this case is abhorrent and cruel in ways that is more or less limited to human beings I’m ashamed to say.

      • I have seen a video of an elephant rights protector, which off course was made undercover. Because doing it undercover is the only way to get the truth out in the open. Vets and so-called law-involved-people do not care enough about animals to stop this nonsense, unless they are half dead. Animals do not by definition die when living a painful life. They carry on although they are sometimes deadly unhappy.
        This may sound vague, but I know exactly how a three-year old elephant gets to the point of obeying to a human being.
        Thanks to the lifelong efforts of Sangduen ´Lek´ Chailert the truth came out.
        All elephants that ´perform´are absolutely `trained´ in a similar way. How else you suppose they stand up on two legs or do other ridiculous things, than doing it out of fear and under pressure.
        Still think it´s all not so bad? Here´s a tip, inform yourself a little bit more:
        Best regards Liza.

    • Please put this Ryan in a cage with Bobby.
      I think Bobby Roberts should be locked up and banned for life for keeping animals.
      He’s trying to cover up blaming a foreign worker. Humans his wife are much to blame.
      His issue statement on his website stating he wasn’t there at the time, Nonsense Lock them all up!!

      I’ve posted letters to the RSPCA and House of Commons demanding they abolish circuses using animals, perhaps if they done that years ago Ann the Elephant would of not being treated so badly.
      My heart goes out to everyone who cares and Ryan my last words to you is Moron!

      • Keep up your work good work campaigning, Hannah. We MUST try and stop any animal performing in a circus. The suffering has gone on for far too long hasn’t it?

    • Interesting comment i cant help but reply to this. I may be wrong but my understanding is that people who keep animals have a responsibility for their welfare. Whether the roberts family were there or not is irrelevent. If the family had such a close loving relationship with this animal and given the nature of the abuse it suffered over a prolonged period. Not a one of incident, they surely would have observed the wounds inflicted. Perhaps they were not observed because the owners were not such loving caring observant owners after all and ticket sales pre occupied them. If this was a child would it be ok to exonerate people who had responsibility or contact with him/her simply because they did not perpetrate or directly witness the abuse…. I dont think so … As the owners of this circus they have an obligation and responsibility for the safety and welfare of the animals and for the actions of their employees so although they might not be directly responsible for the abuse perpetrated against this elephant they were negligent and should be penalised accordingly.

  2. Thankyou for making this decision. It is nice to know that the Yorkshire Agricultural Society puts it’s morals before cash and hopefully a total ban on animals in circus will be in place soon. Thank you

  3. The Roberts family issued a statement on their web site maintaining that the youth seen stabbing – fact- hitting – fact and kicking – fact Anne in the face and body was in order to ‘move’ her over so he could clean her droppings. Does this sound accurate? The footage listed 48 seperate attacks on Anne and you cans ee other animal also being mistreated. An employee of the circus has confirmed that Roberts is seen in the footage walking past at the time Anne is being abused. I hope the facts help people to understand the Council and Agricultural society have acted correctly. As for the pulling out in highlight of ‘how many protesters may invade their ground’ then AMEN – that’s called a result! Well done folks

  4. Had the venue allowed this circus to perform in light of this abuse, then they would have been complicit in this beautiful old lady’s torture. So I say well done Harrogate, fantastic decision. Here’s to Anne finding a new home and spending her twilight years, however many she has left, in peace and comfort.

  5. just because the animal has lived longer than most in captivity is not the issue im sure she is been fed correctly and thats why she has lived so long but to be stabbed kicked and hit in this way is totally unacceptable and the owners should take responsibility for thier staff i would have sacked him straight away im pleased that they have been refused to have a show and i hope the rspca take all thier animals away from them so at least anne coukd have a pleasant end to her life instead of the misery she must be feeling at the moment.

  6. Glad to read this.
    In my opinion, it doesn’t matter whether Roberts knew about Anne’s beatings or not, he still condones keeping her chained by the legs in a darkened tent for at least 3 months of the year as well as between appearances during shows.
    This story sickened me and I hope it helps bring about a ban of all animals in circuses.

  7. I concur with all those who are supporting the Yorkshire Agricutural Society’s stance. The unfortunate elephant, Anne, has been used and abused by this circus for over half a century. One can only imagine how this wonderful animal has endured the torment of her captivity and treatment at the hands of her so-called carers. For Bobby Roberts to deny any knowledge of cruel treatment is quite ludicrous. The sooner this animal is removed from the ‘care’ of the Roberts family, the better. Let’s pray that action will be swift and Anne will be afforded the necessary and appropriate level of care for whatever time she has left. Hopefully, ths will also prompt the government to implement a ban on the use of animals. To continue to allow animals to be used in circuses is to be complicit in their cruel treatment.

  8. Well done on making the choice to put animals before money!
    With people and businesses boycotting the horrific treatment and exploitation of animals in the circus, hopefully a full ban will follow quickly!!
    As for Ryan… when/if you have children, how about letting your child or any family member swap places with Anne? Or the other poor animals there? You would soon think twice about your brainless statement!
    Just like parents are responsible for their children, pet/animal owners are responsible for ensuring their animals are adored and looked after in every way possible! You dont do it, you dont deserve to have children or animals! Especially when involving them in barbaric exploitation
    Connect your brain to your mouth and then talk…

  9. Post this page to all you know and use this hype to raise awareness on what you can . Some aspects may be too much to handle for some but even mild exposure might get some people involved who otherwise would just forget. Keep up the good work everyone and remember there are lot’s of animals in circus’s still. Support Brian Blessed in getting the bill passed (EDM403) for a total ban. ADI website has details.

  10. I am so pleased that things are starting to move along with this story of abuse, to a defenceless animal, my concern now, is that she dosen’t suffer anymore if the circus loses money, will they still be able to afford to feed her and all the other animals

  11. EXCELLENT NEWS…..I personally think that animals should NOT be used in circuses.The conditions they are kept in are not sufficient and basically very cruel. I hope that all circuses are cancelled if they have performing animals……..

  12. I think everyone has clearly stated their feelings about Ryan’s misguided notions regarding Roberts’ responsibility in this matter, so I’ll refrain. I prefer to express my thrill and thanks to YAS for their decision to stand up and fight for Anne, and all the other animals that have no doubt suffered under their “big top”. I hope Anne will be given a new home where she can live out the rest of her days in comfort and peace. I look forward to the day when the wildlife captivity and performance industry will be a thing of the past. keep up the good fight.

  13. I really appreciate all the comments made against this story. It is great to have feedback as to what people think.

    Some of the comments made haven’t been posted as they were more personal against individuals not part of the story.

    It’s not appropriate for a post to be approved that has a comment that is threatening/ aggressive/ intimidating to another persons posts.

    Please email me if you would like more advice though news@harrogate-news.co.uk

  14. Ryan, congratulations on earning yourself some publicity albeit BAD, Now, as a devoted animal welfare campaigner I am not going to afford you any more airtime as our time can be spent elsewhere doing some good for those less fortunate than you but take my advice. Thanks to the advent of the internet and social media, there are now many well informed activists who understand the animals they want to protect. Clearly you have not got the faintest idea so perhaps better you go away and do some work on conservation issues and animal abuse before you post any further. I am surprised that the Editor actually allowed your post to be kept on as long as it has – perhaps it encourages a healthy readership. Personally I find it vulgar and far more offensive than the onslaught you have had thrown back at you.

    I am from Yorkshire and am overjoyed that this Circus has been boycotted. Let this be the first of many.

  15. Well done Yorkshire for taking a stand and boycotting the circus, I was shocked to realise that animals are still used in circuses in UK, albeit they are elsewhere. Agree with Louise Hardy that today we want conservation not to watch animals being humiliated and treated badly in the name of entertainment. How can a life on the road equate with the miles elephants walk each day in the wild?. What are their winter quarters like? how are they treated out of the public eye? Thanks to good documentaries we all have access to how animals look and behave, this Victorian notion of going to see them as peep shows is so outdated and outmoded. Understandable then perhaps, but totally irrelevant now. Well done Yorkshire leading the way, I for one am proud of you and I am sure that thousands of others feel the same way.

  16. Fantastic! Brilliant! Am so pleased ths show will not go ahead in Yorkshire! Lets hope everyone does the same thing. C’MON!!!

  17. Perhaps this answers Ryan’s comment:
    From the Mirror:
    Her release was greeted with delight by Robert Sheret, 56, who ­repeatedly tried to stop Anne being abused while he worked at Bobby Roberts Super Circus from 1983 to 85.

    He said: “When I complained she and the other elephants were being beaten, and weren’t getting enough exercise or food, Bobby Roberts told me: ‘I pay you to work, not to think. They’re my elephants and I can do what I like.’

    “After two years I couldn’t take any more and I left.”

    Well done, Yorkshire. If licences are revoked, perhaps the other animals will follow Anne to a new home and safety too.

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