Anne’s Golden Years: A Grand Farewell to the Circus for UK’s Last Working Elephant

Anne, the oldest and last working circus elephant in Britain, recently took her first steps into a brand new life.

As she shuffled forward, her weary eyes and aching body evident, she began her long-awaited retirement in an idyllic, 13-acre enclosure within the stunning premises of Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire.

Having spent over half a century performing under the harsh lights of Bobby Roberts Super Circus, her journey into tranquil retirement is a relieving turn of events.

Her previous home was far from peaceful; a metallic compound scattered with animal waste where she endured a year of appalling treatment from a cruel animal handler.

Jumping for joy: Anne enjoys playing with a tyre as she explores her new home
Jumping for joy: Anne enjoys playing with a tyre while exploring her new home.

This change is largely thanks to the unyielding support of the Daily Mail’s readers and the tireless efforts of various animal welfare experts.

Anne’s treatment was brought to light in a secret video captured by Animal Defenders International.

The revelation led to an outpouring of concern for the elderly pachyderm. Difficult questions followed.

In the shower: Warden Andy Hayton turns on the hose - something that Anne clearly relishes
In the shower: Warden Andy Hayton turns on the hose – something that Anne clearly relishes.

How could she be best protected? Where would she go to recover? Was she healthy enough to move? Or was the end of her suffering the only kind act left?

The sight of the 59-year-old Asian elephant basking in her new surroundings lays those debates to rest.

She revels in her newfound freedom, soaking up the sun, engaging with the natural environment, and enjoying the novelty of fresh, unending greenery. Despite her age, her spirit remains indomitable.

Play time: Anne is learning how to enjoy herself for the first time. A daily sand shower is one of her main pleasures
Playtime: Anne is learning how to enjoy herself for the first time. A daily sand shower is one of her main pleasures.

Her joyous adaptation is palpable, not only in her eyes, which have regained their spark but also in the soft, rumbling sounds she makes.

Anne’s painful past is, however, memorable. As her keeper, Andy Hayton, observes, elephants’ emotional intelligence and long memories make them extraordinarily special, recalling experiences from decades past.

Anne’s harrowing story began in 1954 when she was captured in Sri Lanka as a calf and sold to the Bobby Roberts Super Circus in the UK.

Brutal: Secretly-filmed footage showed Anne being violently beaten around the head, legs and body with a pitchfork and other implements
Brutal: Secretly-filmed footage showed Anne being violently beaten around the head, legs, and body with a pitchfork and other implements.

She was then forced into a life of performing degrading stunts, from serving as a platform for clowns to posing for photographs with eager visitors. All this while enduring bullying from fellow elephants and abusive handlers.

As Anne transitions into her new phase of life, the Longleat staff are committed to letting her dictate her pace.

They plan to pamper her with various treatments, such as hydrotherapy, dust baths, and physiotherapy, while always considering her age and potential mood swings.

One trunk against another: Anne tests her strength against a giant tree trunk
One trunk against another: Anne tests her strength against a giant tree trunk.

Plans are underway to construct a custom-built elephant enclosure with a swimming pool, central heating, a huge sandpit, and an extensive grazing area.

This sanctuary aims to serve as a haven for distressed elephants across Europe, offering them a place to recover from traumatic experiences.

Anne may carry the weight of her past, but there’s no denying her unique charm. In her, we see a mirror of our emotions, reflections of joy and sorrow. Seeing her now, it’s impossible not to feel a profound respect for this extraordinary creature.

April shower: It's clear that Anne is perfectly content in her new home
April shower: It’s clear that Anne is perfectly content in her new home.

As we bid farewell to Anne’s circus life, we are thankful for her story catalyzing change, heralding a new era for animal rights.

The curtain has finally fallen on her performance days, and in its place, a dignified retirement beckons.

Flashback: How the Mail broke the story of Anne's tragic plight
Flashback: How the Mail broke the story of Anne’s tragic plight.

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