I have spent considerable time building a list of negative incidents associated with circus elephants in the United States since 1800. Thanks to Google’s newspaper archive, I’m discovering several more to add to what is already a large list.
Of course, sometimes the incidents happen in real time.
Three circus elephants got loose and damaged two cars in the parking lot of the Family Arena on Saturday afternoon before being corralled by trainers, according to the circus’ sponsor.
Dennis Kelley, president of the Moolah Shriners of Eastern Missouri, which has been sponsoring the Moolah Shrine Circus for decades, said the incident happened during a performance about 5 p.m. He said no people were in the parking lot when the elephants somehow escaped from the back of the arena in St. Charles. The elephants roamed an area of the parking lot where only circus and Shriners employees’ cars were parked.
Two cars were damaged, he said.
According to Fox News, four vehicles were damaged.
And now the story has been picked up by the Washington Post, which noted that the venue’s loading door was also damaged.
Yes, I think we can assume the USDA is quickly coming to investigate the Royal Hannaford’s elephant handling. The Royal Hannaford is the actual circus contracted by the Shriners, and this is not the Royal Hannaford’s first incident.
KMOV notes the elephants were from the children’s rides. “Officials confirmed these are the elephants children can ride, however, no children were on the elephants when they got loose.”
Elephants have hurt handlers, children, and adults when used for rides. It would be safer to send your kids out into a busy street to play.
CNN has video of the elephants in the lot, and eye witness accounts. Note that this wasn’t a simple case of elephants just wandering out of their enclosure—evidently they panicked during a performance. This was a potentially extremely dangerous situation, which the circus is attempting to downplay. I expect severe repercussions from the USDA.
Circuses haven’t been good for elephants, and forcing them to perform in circuses hasn’t always been that great for people, either.