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Circus Elephant Unlatches Lock To Help Her Friend Escape

For a brief moment, she knew what freedom felt like.

For a few brief moments, Kelly the elephant felt what it’s like to be free.

Kelly is held in captivity at Circus World, a Wisconsin-based attraction where she and another elephant are forced to perform shows daily for crowds of tourists. Unlike the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which retired its elephants last year, Circus World has said it's committed to keeping them in shows.

Turns out, Kelly had other plans.

Early on Friday morning, Kelly was spotted roaming around a neighborhood not far from Circus World, reportedly munching on leaves in the tranquil open air.

Jaime Lynn, who snapped a few photos of Kelly near her house, described the elephant as being “friendly” and “content” — but her taste of freedom was short-lived.

Authorities were alerted to the roving elephant, and about 20 minutes after her journey outside captivity began, Kelly was rounded up again; a trainer from Circus World was called out to escort her back to the facility.

What's more remarkable than the fact that she wanted to escape, however, is just how Kelly managed to pull it off.

Circus World did not immediately respond to The Dodo's request for comment, but the facility's executive director, Scott O'Donnell, did explain to the Wisconsin State Journal

The elephant, Kelly, escaped with the help of an accomplice: Isla, another 40-ish female elephant, undid the latch that locked the door to the barn, O'Donnell said.

"An elephant has about 100,000 muscles in its trunk, so they can get really good at playing around and picking at things," he said.

Sadly, despite the elephant's seemingly deliberate and coordinated escape, what Kelly found in the world beyond the barn was still a far cry from her natural habitat. But though she is once again in captivity, there's still hope that she, and other elephants like her still in circuses, can experience real and lasting freedom.

The Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA), introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives, is a bill which would restrict the use of elephants and other wild animals in circuses. Click here to learn more about TEAPSPA, and to find out how you can help.