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Elephant escapes circus, wanders through Montana traffic

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April 17 (UPI) -- An elephant escaped from a traveling circus in Montana and went wandering through traffic in Butte.

Silver Bow County Chief Executive J.P. Gallagher said the female elephant, named Viola, escaped from the Jordan World Circus on Tuesday and went walking down the middle of Harrison Avenue amid heavy traffic.

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Sheriff Ed Lester explained that Viola had fled the circus when she was spooked by a passing vehicle.

Shocked residents captured photos and videos of Viola's time on the loose.

"My coworker pointed out, 'There's an elephant!' Started jumping up and down, pointing out the window," Civic Center Town Pump co-manager Josh Hannifin told NBC Montana. "We ran out the door and finally caught a video of the elephant coming through the lot here. Pretty exciting."

Gallagher told CBS News that the runaway elephant caused minor damage to a storage area at the Civic Center, but "we are grateful that everyone remained unharmed."

The pachyderm pursuit ended with Viola being caught by her handlers and safely returned to the circus.

Animal rights groups PETA and PAWS reported in separate statements that Viola had escaped from the circus before in 2010 and 2014.

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