Campaigners get their trunk call all wrong

I HAVE to disagree with the animal rights activists who are protesting for the release of a 55-year-old elephant from the circus. Sri Lankan elephant Anne has been with Bobby Roberts Super Circus since she was five years old, and ripping her from the peo

I HAVE to disagree with the animal rights activists who are protesting for the release of a 55-year-old elephant from the circus.

Sri Lankan elephant Anne has been with Bobby Roberts' Super Circus since she was five years old, and ripping her from the people she has spent her life with, to me, seems cruel and unnecessary.

Anne is the last circus elephant in the UK but she no longer performs in any shows. Also, an animal welfare officer from North Hertfordshire District Council visited the circus when it arrived in Hitchin last week, examined all the animals, and said every one of them was in good condition.

But the Captive Animals' Protection Society (CAPS) seems intent on campaigning for the elderly elephant to be released to a sanctuary where she can live out her days, still in captivity, but with the added bonus of being in an alien environment and being cared for by strangers.


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To break Anne's routine and to take her away from familiar surroundings and company at this late stage in her life could be severely detrimental. As the saying goes, elephants never forget, and Anne could well pine away and die.

CAPS also believes it would be in Anne's best interests for her to have the company of other elephants, but I think this is misguided. Anne has not had the company of other elephants since 2001. She would need to re-establish her place in the social order of her new environment and this could be very stressful.

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CAPS freely admits Anne no longer performs in the circus ring, but maintains she is being exploited because people can have their photos taken with her, for £4 a pop. This has an air of straw-clutching about it. As far as I know, taking photographs of elephants does them no harm and, as for exploiting Anne to make money, I'm willing to bet any money made is swallowed up paying for her food, bedding and vet bills.

CAPS follows Bobby Roberts' Super Circus around the country, contacts the media in the local area to highlight the "plight" of Anne, and encourages people to boycott the circus. I think this targeted bullying is wrong. Rather than blindly asserting that all animals in captivity should be "rescued", individual circumstances should be considered carefully.

I've no doubt the best place for wild animals is in their natural habitat, but Anne has spent 50 years in captivity and has become institutionalised. Perhaps CAPS would be better advised to concentrate their efforts on trying to prevent the captivity of wild animals in the first place.

I really don't think it's in Anne's best interests to pack up her trunk and say goodbye to the circus. It's just not that simple.

I WOULD like to think democracy is alive and well in Letchworth GC, but I'm not so sure.

Two parish polls will take place on April 21. One will determine if the public believes Letchworth Garden City Council should be dissolved.

The polls may not be legally binding but the voice of the public, especially if it's united, is surely hard to ignore.

Surprisingly, there's a feeling in the council that the poll will have no bearing at all because town councils are usually set up as "protected" authorities and cannot be abolished for at least the first five years.

Surely a public body, elected by the public in the first instance and paid for by the public, cannot remain viable if the public no longer wants it?

Whatever your opinion of the town council, make it known.

All polling stations used for general and council elections will be open between 4pm and 9pm in Letchworth GC. There will be no poll cards issued and there will be no postal voting or votes by proxy.

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