Runaway circus elephant tramples 84-year-old boules player in Paris


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The Independent Online

An elephant escaped from a circus in a town near Paris on Sunday, killing an 84-year-old Frenchman who was playing in a petanque competition.

Tanya, a two-tonne elephant, had been in an electrified enclosure following a performance in Lizy-sur-Ourcq, when she managed to escape by grabbing a tarpaulin and placing it over the fence.

Having broken free, she broke through two barriers, including one formed by circus trailers, and rampaged into the town square, whereupon, according to a police spokesman, she attacked 'the first person she came across' - an 84-year-old man playing in boules competition.

The man, who has not yet been named, was knocked to the floor by Tanya's trunk before being trampled. He was airlifted to hospital in nearby Kremlin-Bicetre, where he died of his injuries in hospital.

The incident took place after a sellout show at the circus, during which Tanya was described by workers as being 'angry and upset'.

Animal rights activists later accused Cirque d’Europe – the managers of the show at which Tanya, who was originally called Samba, was appearing – of cruelty.

Muriel Arnal, of rights group One Voice, told Mail Online that: "We were told that when Samba refused to perform one day, she was hit repeatedly by her trainer who only stopped because the children were in tears.

"I think Samba wanted to escape and the man was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."