Circus elephant escapes in Zurich, Switzerland

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A circus elephant managed to escape from her handler on Sunday night in the city of Zurich, Switzerland before being recaptured by local police and circus animal keepers. The 26-year-old female elephant, named Sabu, is from Switzerland’s Zirkus Knie. She was able to make her escape just before being put into a trailer, while the keeper was not paying attention.

Around 1930 local time (1730 UTC), Sabu was seen wading in Lake Zurich for a short time before walking back onto city streets. Zurich police said that Sabu wandered along the Bahnhofstrasse avenue of Zurich, which is known as the city’s most exclusive shopping street. She also passed by Z├╝rich Hauptbahnhof (the city’s main rail station) and Paradeplatz, a square of Bahnhofstrasse, where both Credit Suisse Group AG and UBS AG have headquarters.

For nearly an hour, police chased the elephant around the city before she was finally peacefully recaptured in the Talstrasse section of Zurich. Circus officials and police followed Sabu, but a circus spokesperson said that she did not respond to their calls. Sabu was also said to have been moving so fast that police had difficulty keeping up with her. At about 2000 local time (1900 UTC), a keeper was able to control the animal and load her onto a truck to take her to Winterthur, where the other circus animals were. There were no reports of any damage or injuries during the incident, and although police held back onlookers, at least one bystander managed to capture video of the event.

The circus said that Sabu may have escaped after being frightened by storms near Zurich. After returning to the circus, she was said to be tired, but “pleased to be back.”

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