A semitruck carrying five elephants held captive by a European circus company overturned along a highway in Spain recently. The tragic accident took the lives of one of the elephants. The four survivors were injured and disoriented as traffic backed up around them.

The aftermath shut down the road for more than an hour. The pictures of the incident has spread quickly on the internet. These photos expose the dangers faced by animals taken from place to place for people’s entertainment.

Twitter/Gregorio Serrano

It was a heart-breaking scene.

The surviving elephants remained calm as first responders rushed to their sides. Most of them were seen gathering close together for comfort.

Twitter/Bomberos AB

WARNING: Graphic image below

Two of the elephants were seriously wounded. One of them was bleeding from abrasions resulting from her spill on the roadway.

Three of them were able to walk; they were rounded up and transported to safety. The fourth had an injured foot and need the help of a crane.

Before the body of the lifeless elephant was carried away, two spectators voiced their grief about the loss.

“I don’t know these two people, but their actions right now deserve the greatest respect,” firefighters responding to the incident wrote on Twitter.

The surviving elephants were transported to a nearby veterinary facility for treatment.

A petition has been started by the activists from Spain’s Animalist Party Against Mistreatment of Animals (PACMA). They are asking the government to grant a reprieve to the four remaining elephants to prevent their return to the circus that owns them. They are also calling for an end to the exploitation of animals like them.

“The life of a circus animal is hell. They live in deplorable conditions and no other party does anything for them. It is time to open our eyes to the cruelty of this sector,” Silvia Barquero, president of PACMA, said in a press release. “An accident on the highway is not the place where anyone wants to see an elephant. But the animals would not cross hoops of fire, walk on two legs or ride a bike, except for fear of reprisals that involves not doing so.”

PACMA later shared these pictures of the elephants from their last performance.

Over 60,000 people have signed PACMA’s petition.

Such accidents involving circus animals is much more frequent than we think. Last September, a tiger belonging to a former Ringling Bros. circus trainer was shot and killed by police after escaping a transport vehicle.

“This incident sadly illustrates just some of the immense risks and suffering caused by keeping exotic wild animals in captivity for entertainment,” Elizabeth Hogan, U.S. wildlife campaign manager for World Animal Protection, said. “The use of wild animals for entertainment causes immense animal suffering at every stage.”

Once the biggest circus in the USA, Ringling Bros. has since been shut down because of pressure from the public pressure. Sadly, many animals are still being forced to perform elsewhere. As long as this continues, incidents like this one will continue too.

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