A man out for his routine morning walk in the woods was killed by an elephant (not pictured above) on Saturday in southwest Germany. The 65-year-old man was walking near the town of Buchen collecting bottles and cans when he encountered a female elephant who had escaped the nearby Luna Circus. The 34-year-old African elephant, called “Baby,” apparently charged the man, killing him. Two witnesses to the attack called police.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports the man’s wife went out looking for him when he didn’t return home from his walk. The man’s wife encountered police on the scene of the attack. The identity of the victim has not been released.
A circus employee was able to calm down the elephant and return her to her tent. The elephant which killed the man in Germany has reportedly escaped her enclosure before; however, this time there was no damage that would suggest she escaped on her own.
Heidelberg police spokesperson Yvonne Schmierer said the elephant killed the man shortly after 5 a.m. local time. She chose not to disclose the injuries the elephant inflicted on the man. Police did say they believe the man was killed instantly.
“There’s evidence of third party involvement. Either someone forgot to shut the enclosure, or the elephant was released intentionally,” Schmierer said.
It isn’t clear at this time how the elephant escaped or why she behaved aggressively towards the man. Investigation is ongoing into how the elephant escaped its enclosure and what triggered its aggressive behavior toward the man. The tent wasn’t damaged, which means it’s a possibility the elephant could have been intentionally let out.
The German news agency dpa says the elephant has reportedly injured people before. In September, 2010, at Leutkirch, the elephant threw a man into the air, seriously injuring him. The man had pressed himself between the elephant and a fence. In October, 2012, she broke a 12-year-old boy’s jaw after striking him with her trunk at a circus in Burladingen. A representative of the German branch of animal rights group, PETA, is calling for authorities to take the elephant away from the circus.
In the days prior to the elephant killing the man, she had been taken out for a walk several times in Buchen to advertise for the circus. The circus has no comment on the deadly attack at this time.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, elephant attacks on people are rare, but elephants can behave unpredictably, even becoming aggressive. According to the Daily Mail, an estimated 500 people are killed by elephants worldwide every year.
[Photo by Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images]