Circus Elephant Shot: Barnum & Bailey Elephant Injured In Mississippi Drive-By; Police Search For Suspect

By iScienceTimes Staff on April 10, 2013 11:56 AM EDT

Asian Elephant
Asian elephants have become the subject of much controversy surrounding Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. One that was shot in Mississippi on Tuesday while the circus was in town is just the latest. (Photo: Creative Commons)

A circus elephant was shot and injured in a drive-by in Mississippi on Tuesday, according to reports.

The shot circus elephant, a 39-year-old endangered Asian elephant of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus named Carol, was shot from a passing vehicle in the shoulder while resting in an enclosure outside the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo. Capt. Allan Gilbert of CrimeStoppers and the Tupelo Police Department said to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that a silver or white Ford Explorer was seen in the immediate area at the time of the shooting, which occurred around 2 a.m.

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey veterinarian Dr. Dennis Schmitt said that the shot circus elephant is active, mobile and comfortable and is being treated with medication. She will be taken to Springfield, Mo., where she will be observed for several weeks. Carol is expected to make a full recovery.

Circus spokeswoman Melinda Hartline also said that no other animals or people had been injured in the shooting as The Associated Press notes.

Tupelo Police Department detectives have been looking for leads to anyone responsible in the circus shooting but have collected very little information so far, according to Police Captain Rusty. Haynes said that the case would be pursued as a federal offense under the Endangered Species Act because it involved an endangered animal.

The Daily Journal reported that more than $21,000 in reward money is being offered for information that leads to an arrest or arrests.  Former 1st District Congressman Travis Childers of Booneville was the first to publicly offer reward money on Tuesday, pledging a $250 reward.

"How sorry is it to shoot a defenseless animal that was brought here to make children smile," he said. "This isn't representative at all of Tupelo."

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is offering up to $10,000 in reward money, The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is offering $5,000, PETA is offering up to $5,000 and CrimeStoppers of Northeast Mississippi is offering up to $1,000.

According to the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Asian elephant was first listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species in Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1975, and was also listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1976. Because of their status under both CITES and the ESA, commercial trade in Asian elephants and their parts and products is prohibited.

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