Circus owner Bobby Roberts said he wouldn't condone the ill-treatment of animals.
The 69-year-old told District Judge David Chinnery at Northampton Crown Court he had no knowledge of the behaviour towards the 58-year-old Asian elephant.
He said: "It's disgraceful, disgusting. I can't tell you what I would have done. The police would have been involved. Still now when I think about it, it goes through me, I just can't believe it."
Roberts and his wife Moira, 75, from Oundle, deny causing unnecessary suffering and failing to prevent an employee from repeatedly beating Anne.
Circus owner Bobby Roberts is sentenced for causing unnecessary suffering to Europe's oldest elephant
A husband and wife from Northamptonshire are due to go on trial today accused of causing unnecessary suffering to a circus elephant.