Circus Truck Full of Elephants Overturns on Highway

A herd of elephants brought a Spanish highway to a standstill on Monday (2 April) after escaping from a crashed circus truck and roaming free among baffled drivers.

Of the five animals being transported, one died from injuries sustained in the crash while two others were hurt, DW News reported.

The elephants were set loose in the town of Pozo Cañada near the southeastern city of Albacete. The driver of the truck that crashed was not injured, local police said. The government department responsible for Spain's road networks said it appeared the truck was trying to overtake a slow-moving car when the accident occurred.

Local police posted photos explaining that the road had been closed and showing officers attempting to gather the animals together.

A-30 cortada por caída de camión con elefantes sueltos en la calzada. Cortada autovía dirección Murcia a la altura de pozo Cañada.

— PolicíaLocalAlbacete (@PoliciaAlbacete) April 2, 2018

Emergency workers had to lift one of the injured animals from a roadside ditch by crane. Gregorio Serrano, the director of the government department, posted a video to Twitter showing the elephant being lifted to safety. The video shows the elephant's heavily-bandaged foot, though it was not immediatley clear how serious the injuries were.

Se está procediendo a la asistencia y evacuación de los elefantes heridos en el accidente que ha tenido lugar en Albacete. De los cinco paquidermos hay uno muerto y dos heridos. En breve de restablecerá la circulación en la A-30 en el pk 22/23.

— Gregorio Serrano (@GSerranoLopez) April 2, 2018

The other three giant mammals wandered the highway for two hours, forcing authorities to close the road. Emergency workers were later able to herd them back to safety. The town council explained that the four surviving elephants would be looked after by the local authority until they could be transferred.

Spanish animal rights political party PACMA called for the end of animal use in circuses. "Elephants should be in the jungle, not being transported to shows where they are mistreated," PACMA argued on Twitter. The party said it was working around the clock to try and prevent the animals returning to the circus.

PACMA said the animals belonged to the Circo Gottani circus. The company's website says the circus' origins stretch back to 1929 and shows pictures of its performing animals, which include elephants, tigers and horses.

This is the second notable circus animal incident in Spain in the past month. In March, a one-ton hippopotamus escaped from a circus near the southwestern Spanish city of Badajoz, leading police on an hour-long chase before being caught on the side of a road.

In May 2016, another hippo escaped a circus near Seville. The hippo brought traffic to a standstill. Bemused residents watched as police and circus workers eventually managed to coax the runaway back into its enclosure.