"It's not every day you see an elephant walking down Harrison Avenue in Butte, Montana."

Hitting the Slots

An aging elephant was found ambling through Butte, Montana on Tuesday after escaping a traveling circus, according to a report from NBC Montana.

"My coworker pointed out, 'There's an elephant!' Started jumping up and down, pointing out the window," Civic Center Town Pump co-manager Josh Hannifin — who was reportedly about to "wrap hot dog buns" as the scene unfolded — told the local news outlet.

"Pretty exciting," Hannifin continued. "It's not every day you see an elephant walking down Harrison Avenue in Butte, Montana."

According to USA Today, the 58-year-old Asian elephant named Viola escaped her handlers at the Jordan World Circus mid-bath when a passing car backfired and spooked her. Videos online show Viola promenading through halted traffic as one of her handlers chases close behind, at one point meandering toward a local gambling house. As she should!

She was "kind of making her way over to the casino trying to play some slots," witness Mataya Smith told NBC Montana. "Having a fun time, making the best of her Butte experience."

Per NBC, Viola was thankfully captured a few hours later with "no damage or injuries reported."

Viola Section

Yesterday's disappearing act apparently wouldn't be the first time that Viola has escaped. The Jordan World Circus reportedly didn't respond to requests for comment, but folks at the animal welfare group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) told NBC that Viola has broken loose from her captors at least twice before — 0nce in 2010, and again in 2014.

In an email to The Washington Post, PETA additionally urged potential circus goers to refrain from patronizing circuses that use elephants in performances, citing the fact that "elephants learn crucial social and behavioral skills from their mothers and other relatives, with whom they share intense emotional bonds."

"Instead of experiencing all this in their natural homes," a PETA spokesperson added, "elephants used in circuses are exploited — made to do meaningless circus tricks on the road."

In short, given that a circus in Montana is an extremely unnatural place for an elephant to be, Viola's escapist habit isn't terribly unsurprising. But studies have shown that elephants like being around people, and according to NBC Montana, Viola does have a mate — and the witnesses who saw the two trumpeters reunite recalled it being a wholesome moment.

"She got in there and they started trumpeting at each other," Smith told NBC Montana of the elephants' reunion. "It was very adorable."

More on elephants: Elephants Love Hanging out with People, Scientists Find

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