A circus that owns four elephants that were briefly stranded this week along with an Oklahoma roadway also had a pachyderm escape its enclosure and roam free through a Wisconsin residential neighborhood last summer, federal records show.
A female Carson & Barnes Circus elephant named Kelly got loose in June at Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection report. The federal agency said in a document dated July 6 that the elephant could have been injured or hurt people.
Circus World spokesman Dave Saloutos told The Associated Press at the time that another female elephant, Isla, used her trunk to disengage a restraint. Saloutos said Kelly then crossed a shallow river and wandered into a yard where she unlatched a gate and munched on marigolds during her couple hours of freedom.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals criticized Hugo, Oklahoma-based Carson & Barnes after the floor began falling out of a trailer hauling the four elephants Wednesday, leaving them stalled for about two hours awaiting another ride.
"Because of this notorious circus's total disregard for animals' well-being, PETA urges everyone to stay away from acts and exhibitions that put exotic animals on display_and risk their lives on the road," PETA's Rachel Mathews said in a statement Thursday.
Carson & Barnes spokeswoman Jennifer Wisener said Thursday a veterinarian examined the four elephants and that they appeared to be fine. She declined to answer other questions.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol was able to find them and get them to safety
Oklahoma Trooper Dwight Durant said the floor of the trailer carrying the pachyderms was dragging on the road, sparking grass fires along the way.
"Usually here in Oklahoma it's cows or pigs that are in the road," Durant said. "But I don't know that I've ever dealt with any elephants before."
The elephants disembarked near Eufaula, about 120 miles (190 kilometers) east of Oklahoma City, after someone noticed the problem from another vehicle traveling behind the truck.
One lane of traffic was blocked for a few hours while the elephants awaited a new ride. They were transferred to another trailer and moved to a nearby veterinarian's property before a third vehicle arrived to take them to Iowa.