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Circus elephant topples into crowd, miraculously no one seriously hurt

Animal Defenders International (ADI) is calling on governments around the world to take action to address the inherent public safety and animal welfare issues associated with the use of wild animals in circuses after an incident involving three elephants at Circus Krone in Germany put the audience in harm’s way.

ADI President Jan Creamer said: “Using wild animals in circuses is a recipe for disaster, putting animals and the public in harm’s way. ADI calls on governments around the world without bans in place to end wild animal acts without delay and stop circus suffering.”

During the circus’ performance in Osnabrück on Wednesday, one of the three elephants in the ring toppled into the crowd after being pushed to the edge by another, as shown in video footage of the incident. Circus staff can be seen controlling the elephants with bullhooks.

Miraculously, no one was seriously injured during the incident, with one man reported to have suffered minor leg abrasions. Once the elephant, Tompteusen, was back on their feet, the show resumed soon after.

Less than a month ago, an elephant called Kenia escaped from the same circus while it performed in Neuwied, wandering the streets before being recaptured.

Keeping stressed, large, and dangerous wild animals close to the public in lightweight, temporary enclosures, and with inadequate or no safety barriers, has proven disastrous. Workers and members of the public have been killed and maimed around the world.

Studies of the use of wild animals in traveling circuses show that circuses cannot meet the physical or behavioral needs of wild animals. Animals are confined in small spaces, deprived of physical and social needs, spending excessive amounts of time shut in transporters. These animals are often seen behaving abnormally; rocking, swaying and pacing, all indicating that they are in distress and not coping with their environment. ADI’s video evidence has shown how these animals are forced to perform tricks through physical violence, fear and intimidation.

In the US a federal bill, the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA/H.R.1759), to end the use of wild animals in traveling shows nationwide is gathering bipartisan support. Support TEAPSPA here:

A petition to end wild animals in circuses across Europe – initiated after an elephant died in Spain following a road accident involving a total of 5 elephants from Circo Gottani in April – has secured half a million signatures to date:

ADI is currently in Guatemala helping enforce a ban on the use of animals in circuses, as it has done in both Bolivia and Peru. The organization now has 9 tigers and 5 lions at its temporary custody center, removed from two circuses, where it will care for the animals until they go to their forever homes. For the lions this will be ADI’s new sanctuary in South Africa. To support the rescue mission, donate here:


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