Escaped Circus Elephant Goes Exploring in Montana Town

Viola the Asian elephant, spooked by a car backfire, was later reunited with her mate
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2024 7:22 AM CDT

An elephant literally wandered the streets of Butte, Montana, on Tuesday before she was returned to the circus from which she escaped. The pachyderm had quite the adventure, carefully treading across multi-lane roads, visiting the parking lot of a casino, leaving what NBC Montana calls "a surprise" on a resident's lawn, and quickly becoming the talk of the town. She was "trying to play some slots. Having a fun time, making the best of her Butte experience," resident Mataya Smith tells NBC. The whole thing was "pretty exciting," adds resident Josh Hannifin. "It's not everyday you see an elephant walking down Harrison Avenue in Butte, Montana."

Viola the Asian elephant from the visiting Jordan World Circus had been getting a bath in her pen outside Butte's Civic Center when a truck backfired, spooking her, per NBC. The elephant escaped her confines but was closely followed. Video footage showed a handler jogging alongside the escaped animal, trying to corral her, per KXLF. It didn't take long. NBC reports Viola was loose for no more than 20 minutes. Smith says handlers were gentle with the elephant. "They just nicely asked her to move with them and said 'Hey, please don't break this fence.'" Eventually Viola was coaxed into a truck and reunited with her mate. "They started trumpeting at each other. It was very adorable," says Smith, who credits the community's respect for large animals like bison for the lack of injuries in this case. (More Montana stories.)

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