Sarah, an Asian elephant with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, fell while going up a ramp into the train car following a performance in Anaheim, California on August 7.
Eyewitnesses captured video footage of the pachyderm as she lay on her side for about 10 minutes.
Last month, The San Diego Tribune
reported that the circus had been cited by the USDA for their care of Sarah, who had a pus-like discharge when she urinated. Their report stated that handlers were not treating the condition as instructed, which included flushing the animal’s rectum twice a day. The animal's white blood count was also high.
“Sarah is sick and the stress and fatigue has likely led to this dangerous fall," Matt Rossell, campaigns director for Animal Defenders International
(ADI), said in a press release. "This elephant needs to be taken off the road immediately so she can be properly evaluated and treated by a veterinarian. Many traveling elephants are sick and still forced to perform—and incidents like Sarah’s fall underline the dangers faced by animals chained and caged in this impoverished life on the road.”
Ringling Bros claims that the elephant simply took a mis-step and it took about 10 minutes for her to reposition herself and stand.
“This is the first incident we’ve had with her. This is basically her falling as a complete accident and it had nothing to do with any kind of condition [the ADI] is claiming she has," Ringling Bros. spokesman Chris Reichert told CBS
Some of those who witnessed the incident disagreed, saying she appeared to have some trouble walking before her fall.
Sarah has been with the circus more than thirty years.