Officials believe the circus truck carrying the five female elephants crashed after the driver attempted to pass another vehicle
A circus truck carrying five elephants crashed and overturned on a Spanish highway, reports The Associated Press, resulting in the death of one of the animals.
The other four elephants are all being treated for injuries. The deadly accident occurred on Monday in the Southeastern municipality of Pozo Canada, in the province of Albacete, Spain, according to Reuters.
Reuters also reports that the head of the government’s traffic department, Gregorio Serrano, posted on Twitter that evidence shows the crash was caused by the circus truck’s driver trying to pass another vehicle on the highway.
Albacete’s Civil Guard, which responded to the incident, said in a statement reported by the AP that the movement of the five females elephants during the driver’s attempt to pass another long vehicle could’ve caused the truck to tip over. Jose Amado, spokesperson for Albacete’s Civil Guard also said that the driver was not injured during the accident, and the four surviving animals are all being treated for injuries, one for serious wounds, by veterinarians at a local facility and will soon be moved to a clinic.
Before receiving treatment, the elephants were lifted by crane onto new trucks to be transported away from the scene. AP reports it took close to three hours to move the four surviving elephants away from the crash and to remove the dead pachyderm’s body from the road. The section of highway where the accident occurred stayed closed during this time.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a statement to PEOPLE in response to this crash, noting that this is just the latest tragedy to involve elephants and other animals under the care of a circus.
“Circus trains have crashed; animals have been trapped inside overturned trailers; elephants have been used as living car jacks, chained by all four legs, and beaten with bullhooks, causing their feet to rot and their brains to fry; tigers have been left without water while their handlers slept nearby; and one tiger last summer was shot after she escaped at a truck stop. Animals in circuses are caged and chained for the majority of their lives and forced to perform tricks under threat of punishment, which is why PETA asserts that the only way to ensure their safety is to end their use in circuses altogether. PETA is also calling for an examination by police of the driver’s record and public disclosure of veterinary care for the surviving elephants,” reads the statement.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performed its last show in May of 2017, but circuses continue to operate across the world.