Everybody loves the circus, from three to ninety-three. From the cotton candy to the clowns, the folks flying through the air with the greatest of ease on the trapeze to the tigers and lions and bears, oh my!

It's nothing but 100% fun.

That is until the elephant gets grumpy. In fact, beyond grumpy. This little South Dakota town had one big old angry pachyderm.

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The Tale Of Hero the Elephant in the Wilds of South Dakota

Elephant Was On The Loose In Elkton South Dakota
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It was over a hundred years ago, May 1916, that the circus came to the South Dakota town of Elkton, near Brookings. The circus featured a five-ton (normally) docile elephant named Hero. Except, Hero was not a happy camper for some reason.

Hero went what some folks said was 'insane', destroyed a bunch of circus equipment, and thundered off into the countryside. Can you imagine what some of the farmers thought when they looked up and saw an elephant on the horizon?

"Grandpa Strubbe always told the story of an elephant running through the streets of Elkton!" - Mary York via <a href="https://www.facebook.com/ElktonCommunityMuseum/photos/a.514715268609069/1034520743295183" target="_blank">Facebook</a>

Anyway, off the townspeople went chasing mad 'ol Hero. Now, this is going to sound mean and certainly not politically correct. These days he may have been taken down with some sort of tranquilizer gun.

But this was, as they say, the old days. And so it was bullets and buckshot, which only served to make 'ol Hero even angrier. But finally, he was 'brought down' after about 12 hours on the run.

Turns out his bones were put on display at far-away Vermillion, South Dakota in the W. H. Over Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

The Elkton Community Museum does have some interesting relics from the day there was a mad elephant in town, including the gun that fired the fatal shot and a travel bag made out of part of 'ol Hero.

The community has even celebrated Hero Days, "...a celebration of Hero the elephant."

So when you traverse the great state of South Dakota, pull on into Elkton, have a nice meal and coffee, and ask the folks about the tale of when the mad elephant came to town.

RoadsideAmerica Dot Com Contributed To This Article

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