Runaway elephant makes worldwide headlines

A video of an elephant escaping from a Cork circus during the week has become a global sensation.

Runaway elephant makes worldwide headlines

A video of an elephant escaping from a Cork circus during the week has become a global sensation.

The Indian elephant named Baby broke free from her keepers at Courtney Brothers Circus in Blackpool on Tuesday, after apparently deciding she was in no mood to have a shower.

Footage of the 2.5 tonne, 37-year-old trunker making her way through a nearby shopping centre car park was captured by Sligo-born office worker Paul Dunbar.

The video has gained almost 140,00 hits on YouTube since first uploaded by irishexaminer.com and has been posted on news sites worldwide.

"Elephant flees bath in Irish circus and stuns coffee lovers” was the headline on Australian news website news.com.au, while its compatriot ninemsn.com.au went for the more sensational title of “Circus elephant rampages through Irish town”.

Footage: Copyright Paul Dunbar

Animal rights activists have said the incident highlights the dangers of using live animals in circuses.

The Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN) is staging a protest outside the circus this afternoon, urging it to stop using elephants.

ARAN spokesperson John Carmody said there is great public support for the campaign.

"I think when people seen the video on Tuesday… it touched the hardest of hearts across the country.

"Today's demonstration, we think, is going to be quite large with people coming from across the country to speak out against the use of elephants in circuses."

However representatives of the Courtney Brothers circus have denied that their animals are mistreated, or that Baby's famous escape put the public in danger.

“The elephant went into the car park," manager Jim Conway said.

"She did not run through buildings or cars. She is not stupid. No one saw how she came back. She just walked calmly back behind the lads holding the hock.”

Baby's trainer and owner Joy Gardiner meanwhile said the break for freedom took place after she had decided she did not want a bath.

Normally the animals are contained by an electric fence of the same type as keeps cattle in fields.

However, it had been turned off as a precaution as water was being used to wash the circus' five elephants.

Mr Gardiner rejected any suggestion that the animals are in any way mistreated.

“In 2012, any man has his video camera and phones," he said.

"When we work, if we do something bad, you don’t think everyone knows it?”

Additional reporting: Irish Examiner

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