Elephants Reuters

According to a report in the Daily Mirror, circus owners Bobby, 68 and Moira Roberts, 72, have been booked with animal cruelty, following the alleged mistreatment of Europe's oldest elephant, 59-year-old Anne.

Anne was reportedly brought from Sri Lanka, in the 1950s and has spent a good deal of her life since then tied to chains and stakes in the ground.

The case was highlighted when Animal Defenders International (ADI), a worldwide animal welfare organization, carried out an investigation of the Roberts' circus in Peterborough between January and February of this year. Secret footage filmed by ADI shows Anne being kicked and beaten by circus staff, in addition to being chained to the ground, the Independent claims.

The ADI initiated private prosecution steps against the owners earlier. However, the Crown's prosecution service took up the case on Nov. 10 and the owners will be asked to appear before the County Magistrates' Court on Nov. 16

In addition, the owners were also booked with failing to take reasonable steps to prevent their employees from causing unnecessary suffering to the elephant, by repeatedly beating it, and failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that the needs of the elephant were met.

"The Government has recently announced that a ban is not an immediate possibility and has decided to proceed with a licensing system instead. This decision flies in the face of what MPs and the British public demand and it is high time that this Government started listening to the will of the country," said Jan Creamer, the Chief Executive of ADI.

"A ban on the use of wild animals in circuses is long overdue. The old-fashioned practice of removing wild animals from their natural environments for the purpose of entertaining an audience is inhumane and cruel," said Kerry McCarthy, the Labor MP for Bristol East, while commenting on ADI.

Earlier this year, ADI released the results of its independent online poll, carried out by YouGov. The poll asked impartial participants, aged over 18, whether they would support or oppose a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. A massive 72 percent of the public backed a ban with only 8 percent against it. It appears, then, that as many as 3 out 4 members wanted the ban.

In addition, a public consultation by DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) in 2010 resulted in a huge 94.5% public support for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.