A shot elephant returned to its home at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Tupelo, Miss. Thursday night. The 7,535-lb. Asian elephant named Carol was the victim of a malicious drive-by shooting on April 9 of last year.
The shot elephant returned to perform stunts such as standing on its head, sitting and responding to other commands. But Carol wasn't able to do any tricks last year after the drive-by shooting by a mystery suspect: the 40-year-old elephant required months of rehabilitation because she was shot in her right shoulder.
"She's back with a vengeance," Kathy Carden, Carol's trainer, told NBC News. "She's awesome."
Coincidentally, the shooting happened in Tupelo, Miss. last year at around 2 a.m. The only lead was a grainy video of a white SUV speeding away from the scene. Police have been unable to find the culprit, and are now offering approximately $34,000 for information leading to an arrest.
"The case is still being investigated," Lt. Jerry Davis of the Tupelo Police explained. "Detectives are working on it; we just do not have any new information to follow up on at this time."
Before the incident, the elephants were simply kept in fence pens, but now trucks park around the animals to keep them safe. Though Carden was a bit nervous about Carol's return to showbiz in Tupelo, she said the elephant won't remember, despite the common idea that the animals remember everything.
"She doesn't understand that somebody tried to maliciously hurt her; she doesn't understand that. She just had a little boo-boo; we fixed it right away," the trainer said. "They intentionally tried to harm Carol, kill Carol, but they could have killed anyone of us. We were all in R.Vs. We were parked in my R.V. with my family, my two little boys and my husband."
Although Ringling Bros. circus is celebrating the return of their elephant, others feel that Carol has earned her rest after all she's been through. Nearly 17,000 people have signed a Change.org petition demanding the elephant's retirement.
"Please sign this to show Ringling Bros that you are against them putting Carol on tour after she was just shot in a drive-by. This is the least they can do when these animals are out there performing their entire lives for the circus," the petition reads.