Casino customers got the shock of their lives when they saw this escaped circus animal

Apr 24, 2024

The circus coming to town is supposed to be an exciting time. 

But for one city it meant that all hell was breaking loose.  

And casino customers got the shock of their lives when they saw this escaped circus animal.

Circus elephant escapes onto the street of a Montana city

Cities in Montana are no strangers to wildlife wandering into town.

Bison, moose, elk, and black bears have all been sighted.

But nothing could prepare residents of Butte, Montana for what they saw coming barreling down the street the other day.

An Asian elephant with the Jordan World Circus escaped from the Butte Civic Center where the animal was scheduled to perform.

Civic Center General Manager Bill Melvin told the Daily Montanan that the elephant became spooked by a car backfiring and bolted.

It was seen walking down a busy street into the parking lot of a Town Pump gas station and past the entrance of a Montana Lil’s Casino.

Elephant is corralled safely by trainers

Trainers were able to get control of the elephant named Tola and return her to the Butte Civic Center.

“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.”

Tola was loose for less than thirty minutes before she was corralled.

None of the residents of Butte or the elephant were harmed in the incident.

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

Melvin said that the damage the elephant caused was minimal.

An old fence was knocked over but he thought that it could be fixed.

Butte resident Mataya Smith told NBC Montana that she was driving on Harrison Avenue when her husband spotted the escaped elephant.

“I thought he just meant it was in the parking lot. And then I looked up and was like, ‘No, there is an elephant in the road!’” Smith exclaimed.

Town Pump co-manager Josh Hannifin was able to get video in the parking lot.

“We ran out the door and finally caught a video of the elephant coming through the lot here. Pretty exciting. It’s not every day you see an elephant walking down Harrison Avenue in Butte, Montana,” Hannafin said.

“Went for a nice slow walk down Harrison. But man, they move fast when they just walk,” Hannafin continued. “Kind of making her way over to the casino trying to play some slots. Having a fun time, making the best of her Butte experience.”

Smith said that Butte’s experience dealing with wildlife coming into town helped.

“We have plenty of experience with bison, not to get too close and not to interact too much and to stay within a safe distance. So I think it was probably safer for her to get loose here because we all kept our distance. Everybody slowed down, backed up when she was coming towards them,” Smith explained.

Clearly residents of Butte got the experience of a lifetime watching an elephant roam the streets.

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