An endangered Asian elephant traveling with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was injured Tuesday morning in a drive-by shooting in northern Mississippi, according to local news reports.
The elephant was outside BancorpSouth Arena, where the circus will be performing later this week, when it was struck in the shoulder by a bullet, the Clarion Ledger reported.
"Leads are pretty slim," Tulepo, Miss. Police Captain Rusty Haynes told the Ledger. "We're dealing with a victim that can't talk."
The police department told the paper that it is investigating and has been in touch with state and federal wildlife authorities.
Meanwhile, the elephant was treated by circus staff and a local veterinarian, who were able to calm the giant animal. The arena's marketing director Kevan Kirpatrick told the Ledger that within 20 minutes, the elephant was walking around eating carrots.
The shooting, he said, was a big first.
"We have had the circus once a year since 1995," Kirkpatrick said. "Absolutely this is the first elephant shooting we had."
Haynes, the police captain, told the Ledger that the crime will be pursued as a federal offense since the elephant is an endangered breed, and the federal government may provide reward money for information that could lead to the shooter.
Ringling Bros. told the paper that it would issue a statement.