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Butte residents surprised by wandering elephant

Posted at 10:33 AM, Apr 18, 2024

BUTTE — Residents of one Butte housing complex are used to seeing the occasional wildlife wander through their yard—but a giant elephant? That was a first.

“It’s kind of exciting, you know, I didn’t have to go to the circus. The circus came to me,” said Butte resident Paul Robinette.

The Jordan World Circus had a show at the Butte Civic Center on April 16, but one of its performers—a full-grown female elephant named Viola—decided to give some people in Butte a sneak peek. Spooked by a backfiring truck, the elephant ran from the civic center and into traffic on Harrison Avenue.

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Reactions to elephant on the loose in Butte

One resident of Elm Street Apartments was walking to the Town Pump when he encountered Viola.

“I was walking to the gas station to pick up a drink and there it was, just walking down the street. It caught me off guard, it was—how often do you see an elephant walking down the street,” said Elm Street Apartments resident Branden Pierson.

After weaving through stopped traffic, the elephant finally stopped in the yard of the apartment complex. After a few minutes, circus staff brought a truck to safely corral the animal.

“It was just standing there by the building just relaxing, basically, nothing too much, not excited or anything, but as soon as the truck came here to pick him up, he kind of just walked to the truck, so I figured he was just happy to get back to wherever he wants to go,” said Robinette.



A statement from Carson and Barnes, who provided the elephant to the circus, said they were upset the elephant was scared, but grateful it was returned to its handlers unharmed, and no bystanders were hurt.

Despite being so close to a roaming elephant, Branden said he was not frightened.

“I wouldn’t say I was scared, I was more just intrigued because it was an elephant. You know, you don’t really see those in Montana,” said Pierson.

Elephant briefly runs loose in Butte
Elephant briefly runs loose in Butte