Three elephants had just about enough of the circus and made a great escape on Saturday afternoon.
The pachyderms, which according to witnesses, got spooked by a loud noise during the show, ran away from the Shrine Circus in St. Charles, Missouri.
“We saw all these people running after them, and they were all screaming ‘stop, stop,’ and several of the circus people were trying to run alongside them,” said Karyn Tunnicliff, who was in her car with her daughter watching the whole scene play out.
The three female elephants roamed the parking lot for 45 minutes while the Shrine Circus staff attempted to stop them and restrain them. No humans were injured but four cars were damaged.
The circus released a statement later saying the animals were ”resting comfortably in their compound” after they were caught and made no mention of the reason why they ran away in the first place. The show scheduled for later that evening went on as planned but without the runaway animals.
This is not the first time one of the Shrine Circus animals has escaped or gone off script during a performance. In 2010 a handler was kicked and killed by an elephant in between performances and in 2009, 15 children and an adult were injured during a performance when one of the elephants was spooked and started stumbling and knocking things down. That was the same year that Shrine Circus was cited by the USDA for not providing proper care, veterinary attention and food for the elephants. The animals were so mistreated two of them were confiscated and moved to the San Diego Zoo.
No wonder places like Columbia and the United Kingdom have banned the use of wild animals at circuses. To encourage the ban of these smart and sensitive animals in America, you can sign one of the many petitions available urging lawmakers to prohibit the participation of wild animals in circus performances.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Creative Commons