Circus Elephant Escapes, Roams Streets of Butte, Montana

Elephant escapes circus in Butte, Montana, causing chaos on the streets before being safely recaptured. Raises concerns about animal welfare in traveling circuses.

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Circus Elephant Escapes, Roams Streets of Butte, Montana

Circus Elephant Escapes, Roams Streets of Butte, Montana

On Tuesday, April 16, 2024, an Asian elephant named Viola escaped from the Jordan World Circus in Butte, Montana, and wandered through the city streets. The 58-year-old elephant was being washed in the parking lot of the Butte Civic Center before a scheduled performance when a backfiring car spooked her, causing her to run away.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing Viola walking down Harrison Avenue, stopping traffic and causing a commotion. The elephant knocked down an old fence and briefly entered the parking lots of a gas station and Montana Lil's Casino. Cell phone videos captured Viola crossing the street and moving through the city, dwarfing the vehicles around her.

Circus handlers and trainers were able to corral Viola within about 10 to 20 minutes, before law enforcement became involved. The elephant was safely returned to the circus without any injuries to people or further property damage. The incident caused a brief disruption to traffic in downtown Butte as onlookers watched the unusual scene unfold.

Why this matters: The escape of a circus elephant in a populated city raises concerns about public safety and animal welfare. It also draws attention to the ongoing debate over the use of wild animals in traveling circuses and the conditions in which they are kept.

According to animal advocacy groups PETA and PAWS, Viola had previously escaped from the Jordan World Circus in 2010 and 2014. The groups allege that the circus and its animal supplier, Carson & Barnes Circus, have a history of mistreating elephants and violating the federal Animal Welfare Act. PETA has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture requesting an investigation into the circus's practices.

In a statement, the Jordan World Circus said Viola's escape was an isolated incident and that she was quickly secured by professional handlers. The circus is scheduled to perform in several other Montana cities in the coming weeks, including Helena, Great Falls, Bozeman, and Billings. Local officials stated that the shows will go on as planned following Viola's brief unsanctioned tour of Butte.

Key Takeaways

  • Asian elephant Viola escaped circus in Butte, Montana on April 16, 2024.
  • Viola wandered through city streets, causing traffic disruption before being recaptured.
  • Circus has history of elephant mistreatment, per animal advocacy groups' allegations.
  • Circus claims Viola's escape was isolated incident, plans to continue Montana tour.
  • Incident raises concerns about public safety and animal welfare in circuses.