Elephants damage cars after escaping Shrine Circus

ST. CHARLES (KSDK) – Police confirm three elephants escaped the Shrine Circus at the Family Arena Saturday afternoon and roamed the parking lot, damaging multiple cars. No one was injured.

In a statement, the Shrine Circus said handlers were able to occupy the animals, and "they are now resting comfortably in their compound at this time." Witnesses say the elephants were spooked by loud noises when they ran off.

The company operating the circus has been identified as Royal Hanneford, which according to its website has three performing units that tour the country for about 40 weeks of the year.

"We saw all these people running after them, and they were all screaming 'stop, stop,' and several of the circus people were trying to run alongside them," said Karyn Tunnicliff, who was in a car outside of the arena with her daughter when it happened.

They've been going to the Moolah Shrine Circus for years, and they've never seen anything quite like this.

"[A trainer] yelled 'we need pretzels, anything, just get me some food,'" Karyn's daughter, Allie Tunnicliff, said.

The circus was still going on when the elephants escaped, the Tunnicliffs said, and the parking lot was almost empty. The elephants were only out for about 45 minutes before handlers were able to get them back under control.

Two cars were visibly damaged, and authorities couldn't confirm if additional vehicles or property was involved. Witnesses say the cars belonged to volunteers.

In true circus fashion, the next show went on, although the three elephants who made a 'great escape' got the night off on Friday and didn't perform on Saturday either.

As for Karyn and Allie Tunnicliff? They went to the circus as planned.


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