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Monday, January 25, 1999 Published at 19:52 GMT


Circus trainer explains attack on chimp

Mrs Chipperfield is shown on the Animal Defenders video hitting one of her circus camels

Circus trainer Mary Chipperfield, who denies harming animals, has told a court chimpanzees are "tough" and would not be damaged by the level of violence she used.

Geeta Guru-Murthy reports (WARNING: some users may find some scenes disturbing)
Mrs Chipperfield, 61, is giving evidence on the fifth day of her animal cruelty trial at Andover magistrates' court in Hampshire.

She said she had beaten a chimp called Trudy with a riding crop because it had tried to bite her.

[ image: Mary Chipperfield...denies cruelty]
Mary Chipperfield...denies cruelty
Explaining why she kicked the 18-month-old animal, she said she was trying to loosen its grip so she could put it in its box for the night.

Video footage played at the beginning of the trial last week showed Mrs Chipperfield beating the animal in a barn at Croft Farm in Middle Wallop, near Andover.

The court heard she also kicked the animal in the back up to 15 times while holding it by the arm.

Denies cruelty

She denies 21 charges of cruelty relating to the care of animals at her winter training quarters.

[ image: The winter training quarters where the alleged abuse took place]
The winter training quarters where the alleged abuse took place
Her 64-year-old husband, a licensed zoo inspector, denies seven charges.

Mrs Chipperfield, told the court why she had hit Trudy with a riding crop.

She said: "She started screaming a bit and I wanted her to go to bed. I shouted at her and tried to force her in.

"She kept screaming and screaming and tried to bite me. That's when I picked up the stick and gave her a couple."

Mrs Chipperfield said she kicked the animal to try and loosen its grip but added: "The force I used couldn't possibly have done any damage...chimpanzees are very tough."

The court has also been shown harrowing footage of farm worker Stephen Gills beating elephants with an iron bar, a shovel, a broom and a pitchfork.

'Beastman' jailed

Gills, 65, who was employed at the farm as a "beastman" was jailed for four months last year for cruelty towards Rhanee, Tembo, Opal and Rosa.

His attacks were so violent that he once broke an iron bar while beating Tembo.

Gills was jailed for 15 years in 1966 after he threw a fellow train passenger to his death.

Mrs Chipperfield said she had no idea Gills had been mistreating the elephants and said she sacked him as soon as she heard about it.

Charles Gabb, prosecuting, told her: "You don't care tuppence about the infliction of pain. Discipline - that's the god that you worship."

Mr Gabb asked her: "Is it right that you think this is a lot of fuss over nothing?"

'Mistress of animal kingdom'

"A bit along those lines, yes," she replied.

Mr Gabb said she considered herself the mistress of her own animal kingdom and added: "They will do as you say or they will be beaten."

She said she did not regret anything she had done and added: "I haven't done anything abusive to harm any of my animals."

The court heard how the alleged abuse was exposed by activists from the pressure group Animal Defenders who infiltrated the farm between October 1997 and 25 January 1998.

The trial continues.

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20 Jan 99 | UK
Circus trainer ruled with 'iron fist'

19 Jan 99 | UK
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