The escape of African circus elephant female “Tanya” (“Samba”, est. 30 y.o.), who belongs to the French institution „Cirque d‘Europe“, caused a tragedy last weekend.
In Lizy-sur-Ourq near Paris, the female escaped from her paddock which was secured by a hotwire fence by throwing a tarpaulin on it. The incident happened in the afternoon of Saturday, September 8th, 2013. Cow elephant “Tanya” who was said to be already upset during her performance earlier that day, broke through the barriers around the circus and, later met a group of men playing the boules game. She knocked down a 84 y.o. man and stepped on him, which injured the victim so seriously that it died Sunday night in a hospital. The victim´s brother is now pressing charges against „Cirque d‘Europe“. The future of “Tanya” who apparently has been aggressive towards people before, is uncertain. Preferably the female should be housed in a zoo, where she can be managed safely under protected contact.
This incident proves again that it is irresponsible to keep elephants behind hot wires, because hot wire fences can`t prevent outbreaks. A disaster like this can happen at any time and in any other country as well, e.g. in Germany, as most of the German circuses use electric fencing to secure their elephant paddocks. With about 40 circus elephants constantly travelling with German circuses, the potential for further elephant-related accidents is enormous, even more so since several of them are known to have been aggressive towards people.