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Saved: Trudy the Chimpanzee

ADI has built up a formidable body of film and photographic evidence that reveals the extent of animal suffering in travelling circuses. In 1996 an 18 month investigation into the use of animals in circuses took our field officers to Mary Chipperfield Promotions Ltd (MCP) where field officers worked undercover at Croft Farm for several months from 1997 – 1998. MCP trained and supplied animals for the circus industry and housed a variety of exotic species ranging from lions, tigers, bears chimpanzees, pygmy hippos, horses llamas and camels. For the first time the shocking truth of abuse and suffering within the industry was unmasked.

Of the 5 chimpanzees housed at Croft Farm Trudy was the youngest at only 18 months. She lived alone in a small dark enclosure away from all other animals and was often subjected to horrific beatings at the hands of Mary Chipperfield. Each night, Mary liked Trudy to go into a ‘sky kennel’ type dog travelling box to sleep. Understandably lonely Trudy did not like being put into the box, where she remained for around 14 hours each day, but if she objected she would be beaten. Trudy was never met with encouragement or affection but rather the wrath of a riding crop. There appeared to be no reason for doing this other than to reinforce the close control of an animal that would be moved from TV set to photo shoot.

Following the undercover investigation Animal Defenders International brought various court summonses against Mary Chipperfield and her husband Roger Cawley and their elephant keeper Steve Gills. In late 1998, Gills was jailed for cruelty, for his sustained beating of the elephants. Mary and Roger were convicted in a sensational trial in January 1999. Mary for her abuse of infant chimpanzee Trudy and Roger for cruelty to a sick elephant Flora. But the battle wasn’t over. The CPS failed to present evidence of numerous charges brought by the ADI and dropped all those levelled against the company owning the animals (Mary Chipperfield Promotions Ltd). This meant there was no legal means to confiscate Trudy. It took another battle in media to persuade the Cawleys to hand Trudy over to a sanctuary.

Baby chimpanzee Trudy was rescued from international animal trainer Mary Chipperfield when ADI evidence secured her conviction for cruelty, when our Field Officers filmed her beating the young chimpanzee mercilessly. Chipperfield was a supplier of animals to the film industry, including Disney, as well as for circuses all over the world. Chipperfield, her husband and their elephant keeper were all convicted; the elephant keeper spent three months in prison.

Thanks to the ADI investigation into Mary Chipperfield Promotions and the convictions that were subsequently secured ADI was able to place Trudy into the permanent care of a UK primate sanctuary where she remains today with her newly formed companions where she no longer suffers alone.

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