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CWI Re: Viola's Escape


On Tuesday April 16 an elephant named Viola presently traveling with Jordan World Circus escaped her handlers and went charging through the streets of Butte, Montana. It goes without saying that a situation involving a loose elephant puts both the elephant and the public at risk for serious injury or death.

Viola was ultimately recaptured, but because the circus has not released any information--and very likely did not have a veterinarian examine her--we can't know her current health status. We do know she was sent right back out to perform in the days following this horrific incident.

  • When the news broke, CWI acted immediately:

  • We consulted with our elephant expert.

  • We filed an emergency complaint with the USDA

  • We contacted media outlets in the Butte area to provide them with more detailed information regarding Viola and Jordan World Circus.

  • We got the word out about this incident through out social media channels.

Here are some important facts about Viola:

  • She was wild born in approximately 1966, which makes her nearly 60 years old and the oldest elephant still forced to travel, give rides, and perform.

  • Viola is owned by Carson & Barnes Circus, a business which owns a large number of elephants and regularly rents them out to circuses like Jordan World.

  • Last year, Circus World bragged about "retiring" Viola, but--as we pointed out to you--they had no power to retire her from circus life as she was never owned by them.

  • Viola has a history of escaping. She ran away from the circus in 2010 and 2014 and both times was injured as a result.

  • Yes, Viola is an elderly elephant and it is disgraceful and immoral that Carson & Barnes continue to allow her to be rented out to perform stupid tricks rather than being sent to a reputable sanctuary for a well-earned retirement.

However, it's clear that Carson & Barnes doesn't care. In a statement released by the circus after the incident, they stated: “Although we are upset that she was scared and, in this situation, we are grateful that she remained calm and no injuries were sustained to her or any other bystanders.” We are upset that she was scared? If Carson & Barnes had even one single care about an elephant being scared, they would not send them out on the road to face constant peril, bullhooks, loud noises, thousands of miles in the back of a truck. They'd do the responsible thing and retire Viola, Kelly, Isa, Isla and every other elephant that they use and abuse for profit.

CWI Executive Director Carrie LeBlanc shares: “Viola has been through enough. At over 58 years old, she deserves a peaceful retirement at a reputable sanctuary, not to be running down the streets of Butte. Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey and countless other circuses have realized that circus life is elephant cruelty and have moved away from animal acts. Will Jordan World Circus now do the same? Or will they continue to jeopardize the lives of elephants and the safety of the public in order to make a quick buck?”

Circuses will end when enough people care. That is the long and the short of it. Get involved in the fight! You can start by looking at our dedicated anti-animal circus website:

CWI thanks all of those who reached out to us about Viola, and the Associated Press for helping us to get the word out about this incident. Please continue to stand with us and support our work to end animal cruelty.


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