Alisa Manzelli, Global Animal
Carol, the elephant who was shot at a show in Tulepo, Mississippi, is packing up her trunk and taking a hiatus after making a full recovery.
The Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus elephant was injured in a drive-by shooting last week, prompting a $34,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Tupelo police are investigating the shooting, which took place around two in the morning at the BancorpSouth Arena. Police say a vehicle drove by the arena and fired at the 39-year-old animal.
The elephant’s trainer and owner, Catherine Carden, who was approximately 45 feet away from the elephant when she heard the gunshot, said, “It was like a bomb went off. I’ve never heard gunfire so loud. It was a huge boom, one resounding boom.”
She continued, “It was surreal, I just couldn’t believe it. I saw a hole in my elephant, and a trickle of blood running down her leg, and she was just standing there like nothing had happened.”
Carol was said to have remained calm after the attack. “She was the only one it seems who hasn’t been affected by this. She’s healing up just fine,” according to Carden.
The bullet struck the elephant in the shoulder blade and struck muscle, which fragmented into five pieces, leaving a dime-sized entry hole. A veterinarian tended to the wound but could not remove the shrapnel. Carden said the hope is that the bullet pieces will release similarly to a splinter would from a finger.
“I mean, if your elephant is going to get shot that’s the perfect place. Anywhere else, within 12 inches in a different direction, could have been fatal or lamed her for life,” Carden said.
Carol has entertained crowds across the US during her career, and although two other elephants in the enclosure escaped unharmed, Carden ruled out the possibility of the shooter having a personal grudge against Carol.
“She was on the end, she was closest to the road. I just think he had the best shot. She was blocking the other two, I think she just happened to be in front,” she said. “I think it was just someone who decided: ‘Oh let’s see what happens if you shoot an elephant,'” Carden said.
Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus, have put up a $10,000 reward for information on Carol’s shooter, which was matched by the Carden family business, George Carden Circus International. Multiple agencies and concerned individuals—including PETA, the Fish and Wildlife Service, Crimestoppers of Northeast Mississippi, and former Mississippi congressman Travis Childers—have also contributed money in a bid to track the gunman down, with the amount rising to $33,750 over the weekend.
Tupelo Police Captain Rusty Haynes said no arrests have been made but police are checking leads.
Because the Asian elephant is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature with fewer than 50,000 left in the wild, the shooting has been deemed a federal offense.
However, even without the threat of being shot, circus elephants are regularly forced to endure violence and distress. Please urge the USDA to confiscate all of Ringling’s ailing animals and consider transferring them to reputable sanctuaries.
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