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PETA claims elephant that ran loose in Butte has been subject to years of abuse

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Posted at 2:38 PM, Apr 17, 2024

BUTTE — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released a statement on Tuesday alleging that a circus elephant that briefly ran loose in Butte has been subject to "decades of abuse and involuntary servitude" by her owner.

The PETA statement claims that the elephant, named Viola, is an elderly animal with Jordan World Circus and was supplied by Carson & Barnes Circus. According to the animal rights group, Viola has escaped twice before, in 2010 and 2014.

PETA, referencing its own 2021 investigation, alleges that Viola "was being forced to perform daily despite having chronically swollen feet and signs of other ailments that impacted her rear legs."

A Carson & Barnes representative confirmed in a statement obtained by MTN News that Viola is the elephant that was seen running loose on Harrison Avenue on April 16 in Butte.

PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Welfare Debbie Metzler said in the statement:

Viola’s desperate break for freedom follows decades of abuse and involuntary servitude at the hands of Carson & Barnes Circus, which forces her to perform grueling, painful tricks and has been caught on video electroshocking elephants and beating them with a sharp, steel-tipped bullhook. PETA has submitted an urgent complaint to federal authorities over the circus’s failure to protect Viola and the public from this frightened animal’s attempts to flee her weapon-wielding handler and urges everyone to help elephants like Viola by refusing to buy a ticket to any circus that still forces them to perform.

The statement says PETA's complaint asks the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate Carson & Barnes and ensure Viola is examined for any injuries she may have sustained.

MTN News has reached out to Carson & Barnes for comment on PETA's allegations. We will update this story with any response we receive.

WATCH: Town Pump captures footage of Viola the elephant running loose

Town Pump captures footage of elephant running loose in Butte