Monday, October 12, 2015

The Great Elephant Escape!

There are a variety of animals at the MN Renaissance Festival:  jousting horses, ponies, a reptile learning center, petting zoo creatures, elephants, camels, tortises, a llama, a raven, and probably more that I can't remember.  The 2 camels, 2 elephants, and the llama are in close proximity of the jousting horses both on the festival grounds and back at camp.

Unfortunately, one of the jousting horses is scared of elephants - Indigo.  He's a big, black percheron - the biggest they have.  He's young and he's got a few quirks.  He can't stand the bouncy trampoline monster at the end of the jousting track, he hates the trumpets that play during the jousts, and...  he has a fear of pachyderms.

When the horses arrived at camp the first day, they unloaded them one by one and put them behind some makeshift electric fences that would be their home for the next 10 weeks.  They're probably 150 feet from the elephants.  All was going well.  Then Indigo was brought out and the elephants sensed fear.  They charged the fence (a tiny electric wire), flapped their ears and lifted their trunks.  Indigo reared and freaked out, which seemed to be just the reaction the elephants were looking for, so they did it again.  And again.  And again.  They put Indigo as far away from the elephants as they could but he could still see them, and he had to deal with them next to the jousting ring each weekend.  He started to calm after a few weeks but always had one eye on them wherever they were.

Then, it happened.  The elephants escaped their handlers.  It was the middle of the week and they let the elephants out of the fences so they could play in the forest and dig up trees and just be elephants for a while.  The handlers were right there but they couldn't stop it.  It seems that the littlest elephant has a bit of a mischevious personality and she decided to make a break for it, and the other elephant thought he might as well take the opportunity to go, too.  They made a beeline down the row of horses, past all the others, right for Indigo.  Of course, the poor horse freaked out as they wanted him to and he broke through the fence.  Two other horses that he was with freaked out with him and they took off, elephants behind them.  The horses found a place to hide, the handlers captured the elephants, and the horses were found and brought back to camp.  Everyone was fine, people and animals, but it sounded like quite the scene.