Courtney Brothers circus will be picketed in Blackpool, County Cork, after one of their elephants broke loose in a carpark, before charging through a busy junction towards a shopping center.

Although the agitated elephant was brought under control after a short time Animal Rights Action Network (Aran) say the incident could have resulted in a trampling, seriously injury or death. The group is calling for circus acts to be banned from using elephants.

John Carmody, a spokesman for the group, told the Irish Times “This should be seen as a clear warning that’s it’s only a matter of time before someone is killed or injured. These are animals that belong in the wild but are kept in cramped vans and wagons for transportation and then made to perform ridiculous acts.”

The group says elephants cannot be housed in a humane way by a circus.

The spokesman said “These are wild animals by nature. But they are chained and tethered. In Bandon, their only freedom was a small enclosure covered with tarpaulin. They are made to perform ridiculous, degrading acts.

“We are warning gardaí [police] and local councils that it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt, it’s a matter of public safety. We may not be so lucky next time.”

The Courtney Brothers, one of Ireland’s oldest circus families, herds five elephants through each town they perform in to announce their arrival. Aran says this is a threat to public safety.

WARNING BAD LANGUAGE - Here’s the YouTube video of the incident posted by Paul Dunbar:

Here’s footage, shared with IrishCentral of RTE News footage on two elephants trapped in Youghal, County Cork:

Elephant on the loose in Cork carparkYouTube