UK circus owner found guilty of elephant abuse

Posted: 11/23/12 at 4:00 pm EST

LONDON (AP) -- A British court has found a circus owner guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a performing elephant.

A judge at Northampton Crown Court convicted Bobby Roberts after the court was shown secretly-filmed footage of a groom hitting 58-year-old elephant Anne with a pitchfork.

The video, which was recorded by the group Animal Defenders International in 2011, showed the groom kicking and hitting the Asian elephant, which was seen chained by a foot and a hind leg in a barn.

The 69-year-old Roberts told the court during a five-day trial that he would never have condoned the behavior of the groom, who is believed to have returned to his home in Romania.

He was given a three-year conditional discharge Friday.

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