A video showing a group of African elephants going on the rampage during a travelling circus in Denmark recently went viral. The elephants were performing at the Danish town of Karrebaeksminde when they clearly became agitated, breaking from formation and dashing into the crowd which had gathered to watch. The elephants were dangerously close to bystanders, including a baby in a pram. One elephant made short work of a parked car in this dramatic footage.
Although Denmark does have a ban on wild animal performances in circus, certain animals – including elephants – are except from this ban, apparently for historical reasons.
Despite calls from numerous groups to put an end to wild animals performing in circuses and a public outcry to the way the elephants were treated in the video (with one trainer seen hitting the elephant) – the group, Cirkus Arena, continues to promote their events and elephant performances.
A statement on the Cirkus Arena Facebook page says the elephants reacted when the spectators would not respect their instructions and tried to get too close to the elephants. They claim that the elephants are usually thrilled to get out and bathe (as they are seen doing in the video) and they say that next year they will ensure that police are on hand to control the traffic. The statement claims that it is not customary for them to hit the animals but the staff member panicked and made a bad choice. They are continuing to invite the public to visit their “three girls” at their upcoming shows and to see them cooled down by their handlers – apparently a favourite activity for audiences and the elephants.
However their statements do little to address public concern for not only the safety of these elephants but also for circus audiences.
Danish animal welfare group, Dyrenes Beskyttelse, says that this incident constitutes a major safety hazard and shows that the elephants were put under undue stress in a situation that could have been avoided. The group is encouraging audiences to take responsibility when choosing to support events like this. So far, over 21,000 people have signed the group’s petition to get politicians to change the law – implementing a complete ban on wild animals in circuses.