Spooked circus elephant nearly crushes German crowd mid-performance (VIDEO)

A circus elephant was pushed and toppled onto an unsuspecting crowd in Germany, prompting animal rights groups to call for an end of forcing wild animals to perform in captivity.

On Wednesday, the elephant was performing in Osnabrück as part of a trio in Germany’s largest operating animal circus, Circus Krone. The elephants were carrying female performers when two of them suddenly became spooked and began ramming the third elephant out of the arena until it toppled onto the ringside crowd.

Miraculously, nobody was seriously injured in the incident, although one spectator did reportedly suffer abrasions to his leg and the elephant suffered a swollen leg. The show continued after a short break following the incident.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said incidents like this are inevitable when wild animals from different regions and families are thrust together and forced to perform under tense conditions. Elephants are often poked and prodded with sharp objects, called bullhooks, in order to keep them in line.

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Jana Mandana, the head of Circus Krone, said these animals are known to “argue regularly.”

It’s natural and normal in a group, because the hierarchy changes also sometimes,” Mandana said.

Last month, another elephant broke out of a Circus Krone show for several minutes and walked through a neighborhood in western Germany before it was recaptured. Circus Krone is currently in the middle of its summer ‘Evolution’ production, a tour which will take them across 30 cities throughout Germany.

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PETA claims that circus animals have been known to be tied up for 18 to 20 hours a day and are often kept in conditions that violate animal-welfare regulations when on tour.

Most European countries have issued a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. Germany is one of the last remaining nations to allow the practice along with France, Spain and Switzerland, who are all facing increasing pressure to shut down the form of entertainment.

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