A Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephant is recovering after being shot Tuesday in Tupelo. / File/The Clarion-Ledger
By Emily Le Coz / The Clarion-Ledger
An elephant with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
was injured in an early morning drive-by shooting in downtown Tupelo on
Tuesday but is expected to make a full recovery.
elephant, one of several performing with the traveling circus, was in
an enclosure outside the BancorpSouth Arena when it was hit by a bullet
in the shoulder, said the arena's marketing director, Kevan Kirkpatrick.
"We had have the circus once a year since 1995," Kirkpatrick said. "Absolutely this is the first elephant shooting we had."
security guard on the scene was able to provide some information to the
Tupelo Police Department, which is investigating but "leads are pretty
slim," said Tupelo Police Capt. Rusty Haynes. "We're dealing with a
victim that can't talk."
department has been in touch with state and federal wildlife
authorities and, because the Asian elephant is an endangered species,
the crime will be pursued as a federal offense under the Endangered
Species Act, Haynes said.
addition, he said, federal government might provide reward money for
information leading to the conviction of the responsible person or
staff and a local large-animal veterinarian immediately calmed the large
pachyderm after it was shot and provided it medicine. Within 20
minutes, the animal was walking around the pen and eating carrots,
Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is flying in its own veterinarian
to follow-up on the elephant's health. Company spokeswoman Melinda
Hartline couldn't immediately confirm the gender or age of the elephant
and said the circus would release more information later.
to its website, Asian elephants can weigh up to six tons and eat up to
200 pounds of hay daily. The company also has a conservation program for
is not who Tupelo is," Kirkpatrick said. "This doesn't represent our
building or our town or our region and we hope the Tupelo Police
Department apprehends these folks as quickly as possible and that they
are punished to the full extent of the law."
The circus will go on as scheduled, with shows set to start Thursday and run through the weekend.