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Viola the elephant performs in Bozeman after her adventure in Butte

Posted at 10:24 AM, Apr 24, 2024

BOZEMAN — Viola the elephant, who performed with the Jordan World Circus in Bozeman on Tuesday, is one you might recognize from her "escape act" in Butte last week.

“Yeah, everyone has heard about Viola taking her little excursion,” said Viola’s handler Armando Loyal.

She’s the talk of the town—a 10,000-pound Asian elephant who on April 16 was seen lumbering down Harrison Avenue in Butte after temporarily escaping from her handlers.

Loyal recalls what happened that day.

“We were giving the elephants their daily bath right next to the Civic Center,” he said.

Armando says that’s when an old truck drove by and backfired loudly.

“It just spooked her real quick and she’s like, I’m getting away from that sound right away,” said Loyal.

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Armando Loyal, Viola's handler

People watched in awe as Viola took off down the road, stopping traffic, with her sights locked on a patch of green grass.

“So she stopped and ate some grass. I didn’t wanna bring her back and walk her through traffic again so we brought the truck around. She jumped right in and we brought her back,” Loyal said.

Armando has been handling Viola for 22 years and says he’s protective of his elephants.

“I’m the caretaker, handler, trainer, dad, everything for the elephants here,” he said.

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When asked what it takes to care for an elephant?

“A lot of time and dedication. You have to be with them all the time, make sure their needs are met, and just spend quality time with them,” said Loyal.

Armando is aware of some animal rights groups complaining about Viola’s treatment.

“They get the best of care, all the love and attention we can give them, so for any naysayers, please just come see for yourself,” he said.

Reactions to elephant on the loose in Butte

After the Bozeman shows on Tuesday evening, the Jordan World Circus heads to Billings.

Once the circus ends mid-June, Armando says the elephants are going back home with him to the 200 acres in Oklahoma where they live.