(Tupelo, MS) A drive-by shooting takes one of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey elephants offstage for six to eight weeks.
Carol, a 39-year old Asian elephant was shot Tuesday morning hours the crew finished setting up what’s called the circus compound.
It’s something Ringling Brothers says has never happened in its long history.
Rob Lang, General Manager for Ringling’s “Gold Edition,” “Never in the one hundred forty-three years of Ringling Brothers Circus has anything like this ever happened. So, a lot of disbelief, a lot of disappointment.”
Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey arrived Sunday night at BancorpSouth Arena and worked all day Monday to set up its outdoor compound where circus employees live and where animals are housed.
Carol and two other Asian elephants were inside a covered tent when she was shot.
Tupelo Police Captain Rusty Haynes says it’s unknown what type of weapon caused the wound, “The elephant has sustained at least one bullet wound between her ear and I guess you would have to consider it the base of her neck area.”
Captain Haynes says a white or silver Ford Explorer, he’s calling a “vehicle of interest,” was seen on a street behind the arena around the time of the shooting, “It’s, you know, it was a drive-by shooting.”
Arena Executive Director Todd Hunt says the shooting is a black eye for Tupelo, “It doesn’t represent the population as a whole, I’m convinced. And it certainly doesn’t represent our facility and our community.”
Tuesday, a veterinarian with the circus arrived to care for Carol, who weighs almost 8,000 pounds and has been with in the circus all her life.
People like Sherri Bernier are shocked about what happened to the “big top” icon, “It’s atrocious. I can’t believe that they drove by and shot an elephant. Especially one that’s here to entertain our children and adults alike.”
More than $16,000 in reward money is being offered to find the person who shot Carol.
Since she’s an endangered species, if the person is ever caught, they’ll likely be going to jail for a long time.
Tuesday the circus’ vet says Carol is going to be okay.