Elephant Escapes Circus, Joins Montana Traffic

Even elephants need a day off. An elephant that had been traveling with a circus in Montana managed to escape and decided to wander through traffic.

Silver Bow County Chief Executive J.P. Gallagher said the female elephant escaped from the Jordan World Circus on April 16, 2024. The elephant, named Viola, then proceeded to walk down the middle of Harrison Avenue in Butte, Montana, amid heavy traffic.

Sheriff Ed Lester explained that Viola had fled the circus when she was frightened by a passing vehicle.

During Viola’s day out, many residents spotted her and managed to take videos of the bizarre scene. “My coworker pointed out, ‘There’s an elephant!’ Started jumping up and down, pointing out the window,” Civic Center Town Pump co-manager Josh Hannifin said. “We ran out the door and finally caught a video of the elephant coming through the lot here. Pretty exciting.”

Gallagher reported that the runaway elephant caused minor damage to a storage area at the Civic Center but “we are grateful that everyone remained unharmed.”

Fortunately, Viola was caught by her handlers and safely returned to the circus. According to animal rights groups PETA and PAWS, Viola had escaped from the circus before in 2010 and 2014.