A circus truck carrying five elephants overturned on Monday on the A-30 highway in Pozo Cañada in Albacete, leaving one of the animals dead and two seriously injured. The driver was unharmed. The accident occurred at 2.24pm when the truck tried to overtake a car traveling at low speed, the local Albacete police force and Town Hall explained in a message on Twitter. As the circus vehicle sped up to enter the other lane, it tipped over – likely due to the uneven weight distribution and the movement of the elephants, said sources from Spain’s DGT highway authority.
The surviving group of elephants was let loose and wandered the highway after the crash. For more than two hours the A-30 was closed with traffic redirected to the N-301, causing massive tailbacks.
Two of the elephants suffered “serious injuries” and had to be rescued by a crane
Photos published on Twitter by local authorities showed at least five elephants, some with bloodied faces, walking along the road. Dozens of drivers got out of their cars to inspect the unusual scene.
The elephants’ circus trainers were called in to keep them calm as they looked for a new way to transport the animals and continue the journey. Two of the elephants suffered “serious injuries” and had to be moved with a crane, as seen in a video shared by the general traffic director at the Interior Ministry, Gregorio Serrano. According to the Albacete Town Hall, the elephants remained calm despite the accident.
The wrecked truck was removed from the road, with Civil Guard officers from Albacete and Public Works officials taking part in the operation to clear the damage.
According to the Association of Traveling Circuses, the vehicle had been approved to make the journey and the situation of the elephants complied with all regulations. The organization said that the injured animals were being looked after at a field hospital set up at the site of the accident. Ignacio Pedrera, the spokesperson for the association, has criticized social media media messages saying that “the trainer should have died instead of the elephants,” something that, he said, is only contributing to the suffering of the driver. “He is a person who loves animals,” Pedrera added.
On March 21, a hippopotamus escaped from a circus in La Garrovilla, a small town in the Badajoz region. While the animal was only on the loose for more than an hour before being rescued, the Civil Guard’s Nature Protection Service (SERPONA) opened an investigation into possible negligence of the circus handlers.
English version by Melissa Kitson.