Elephant escapes circus, roams Butte, Montana, video shows


A normal day in Montana took a turn when locals reported an unusual sighting: an elephant on the loose in Butte.

The incident was captured on video by stunned witnesses as the animal wove through traffic and stomped past a casino on Tuesday. A man, who appeared to be her handler, can be seen running alongside the large mammal.

“An elephant walking down the road,” a bystander can be heard saying in a video posted to Facebook by a user named Brittany McGinnis. “Oh my god,” the witness says, laughing.

As the elephant passes vehicles on the street, trunk and tail swinging, a bystander in the video says, “Only in Butte. A circus elephant got loose.”

An escaped circus elephant brought traffic to a halt in Butte, Mont., on April 16, as it barged through city streets. (Video: Brittany McGinnis via Storyful)

Local media reported that the elephant escaped from the Jordan World Circus, which was holding a show at the Butte Civic Center on Tuesday, according to its website. The circus did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Wednesday.

Butte Civic Center Manager Bill Melvin told KXLF that a female elephant temporarily escaped from the Jordan World Circus. He said the animal’s handlers were washing it outside the civic center when a passing vehicle backfired. The elephant was spooked, then managed to break free, Melvin said.

At some point, the animal defecated on someone’s lawn, NBC Montana reported. The elephant was eventually caught and returned to the circus without injury, KXLF reported.

Photos and video of the elephant’s escape swiftly appeared on social media, sparking a range of reactions.

“This is crazy,” one person wrote. “Probably the most freedom the elephant has had in his life,” another wrote.

Despite the dramatic images circulating, Melvin told the Daily Montanan the elephant’s escape “was not nearly as dramatic as you would think.”

“Everybody’s back home safe and sound,” he said.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said it submitted a complaint to federal authorities, citing “the circus’s failure to protect” the elephant and the public.

The animal rights group also urged people not to buy tickets to any circus that forces elephants to perform.

“Elephants learn crucial social and behavioral skills from their mothers and other relatives, with whom they share intense emotional bonds,” PETA said. “Instead of experiencing all this in their natural homes, elephants used in circuses are exploited—made to do meaningless circus tricks on the road.”


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