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Court to rule on circus elephant future

Animal rights group has filed a complaint against the owners of an elderly animal, arguing that it has been mistreated for years

A court in Bordeaux is set to determine the future of a circus elephant that an animal rights group argues has been mistreated.

The group One Voice says that it has already reserved a place for the elderly elephant, named Maya, which is kept in a circus based in Lot-et-Garonne, at an elephant sanctuary in Limousin.

It has filed a complaint against Maya's owners, claiming that she has been subjected to cruel treatment for years, and expressing concern over the state of her health.

The association says that she has 'multiple scars', and described her condition as, "extremely alarming … and must be evaluated by an independent veterinarian specialising in elephants designated by the authorities".

A lawyer for the group said that the tribunal administratif de Bordeaux, which will rule on the case, does not usually grant hearings on complaints of this nature.

"This does not mean that we will … be successful," Arielle Moureau said. "But we should at least get back … reports [on her condition]. We will take advantage of this to ask for an explanation on the reluctance to act of State services, which refuse to act while an elephant is suffering greatly."

The sanctuary in Limousin is still under construction, but once complete will look after animals that have been taken from circuses.

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