Shrine Circus Elephants Escape, Damage Cars In St. Louis

Elephant
Three elephants temporarily escaped from the Shrine Circus after they were reportedly spooked by loud noises. Reuters

What’s worse than a bull in a china stop? Try elephants in a parking lot. According to KSDK.com, three circus stars escaped from Shrine Circus in St. Louis, Mo. on Saturday afternoon. Though the trunked trio damaged some cars while roaming through the lot, no one was reported injured.

In a statement reported by KSDK, the Shrine Circus said handlers were able to control the animals, and "they are now resting comfortably in their compound at this time." The elephants reportedly ran off because they were frightened by some loud noises, witnesses said.

"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," onlooker Karyn Tunnicliff said, according toKSDK. She said she was in a car with her daughter outside of the circus when the elephants ran off.

The circus was still in progress when the tuskers made a run for it, Tunnicliff said. They were on the loose for about 45 minutes and the parking lot was pretty much empty.

"[A trainer] yelled, 'We need pretzels, anything, just get me some food,'" Karyn's daughter, Allie Tunnicliff, said.

In the end, two cars were noticeably dented, but authorities didn’t say if additional vehicles or property were damaged during the elephants’ "great escape." The parking lot was a private one owned by the circus and it wasn’t accessible to the public, CNN reported. The cars that were dented belong to circus employees or “Shriners,” as they are also called. Their website describes them as men in "funny red hats, who drive little yellow cars, dress like clowns."

The elephants who escaped weren’t injured, CNN reported, but were given a break for the rest of the night. No hind-leg performances from them were seen. 

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