Watch: Escaped Circus Elephant Goes for a Stroll in Butte, Montana

Eky Studio /
Eky Studio /

Residents in Butte, MT, were treated to an unusual sight on Tuesday when an escaped circus elephant wandered through the downtown area for a while. The 58-year-old Asian elephant named Viola was being washed outside the civic center before her scheduled performance that night with the Jordan World Circus.

The civic center manager, Bill Melvin, says that a passing car backfired and spooked the elephant, which sent her running through the streets. A bystander snapped a video of Viola, posted below, on the run through the middle of Butte and posted it to Twitter/X with a handler running behind her. She ran across busy Harrison Avenue and then into a casino parking lot.

The escape only lasted for about ten minutes before handlers were able to corral the giant pachyderm.

“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,” said Melvin. “It was not nearly as dramatic as you would think.”

No people or animals were injured during the escape. However, the elephant did smash through one family’s fence and dropped a giant poo in their backyard. It may not be the most newsworthy event of the past century, but for a rural town of about 35,000 people, it was a rare treat to see a circus elephant running around loose.

Here’s the video of Viola’s attempted run for freedom that a user posted online: