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Circus elephant temporarily wanders loose in Butte

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Circus elephant temporarily wanders loose in Butte

Apr 16, 2024 | 6:06 pm ET
By Nicole Girten
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Circus elephant temporarily wanders loose in Butte
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An elephant walks across the parking lot of Town Pump in Butte on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. Photo courtesy of Brittany McGinnis.

Of course in Butte, America, right?

A circus elephant temporarily escaped the Butte Civic Center Tuesday afternoon, strutting along Harrison Avenue and into the Town Pump parking lot before safely being brought back by a trainer.

The Jordan World Circus is in town for the evening at the Butte Civic Center. The elephant was spooked by a car backfiring, according to Civic Center General Manager Bill Melvin, and she walked about 100 yards from the venue before trainers brought her back. The elephant’s name is Tola and she’s in her late 40s, according to a trainer with the circus.

“The circus, of course, is very professional, and they had a professional trainer and he was real calm and the animal was calm and they were able to get her right back,” Melvin said. “It was not nearly as dramatic as you would think.”

But it was a spectacle for downtown drivers, with social media users posting videos saying “Oh my god” repeatedly and jokes about the elephant going to Town Pump. Republicans also took to social media to joke the elephant was a harbinger for a right-wing take over in Silver Bow County.

Melvin said no one was hurt, and she was out for less than half an hour.

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

The circus also confirmed the elephant made it back safely.

The damage was negligible, with Melvin saying the elephant knocked down an old fence on the property, but he figured it could easily be propped back up.

Montana cities have seen other animal encounters in recent years, including bobcats and moose.

The circus is scheduled to tour other Montana cities in coming weeks, including stops in Helena, Great Falls, Bozeman and Billings.