Rhino and hippo circus lorry crash

Friday, January 20th, 2006

Circus Trip Hell: Hippo and rhino for Irish show endure nightmare journey… before CRASHING

By Jeremy Armstrong

A rare white rhino and a hippo endured a nightmare trip to Ireland when their wagon was re-routed, crashed, broke down and then ran out of food.

The 2.5 tonne rhino, with the stage name Hulk, and the three tonne hippo Jedl made the three-day journey from France in cramped conditions.

The animals belong to Italian circus Il Floriglegio but were being transported to perform for the American 2 Ring circus in Kilkenny.

They were taken on a ferry across the English Channel and by road to Fishguard port in Wales but could not be accommodated on the ferry to Rosslare, Co Wexford.

The driver then had to travel through the night to Holyhead. En route, the wagon and trailer were involved in a smash early last Thursday with a taxi in Llanrhystud.

The lorry driver gave his details to police and was allowed to continue his trip because he said he had to catch the ferry.

But the wagon broke down outside Aberystwyth, where a motorist helped provide food for the animals after the driver told her he had run out of cash.

Natalie Coulson, 37, who gave the driver money for diesel, said: “He looked lost by the roadside and I could not believe it when I saw the animals in the back.
“There were two tyres gone in the trailer carrying the rhino but he had to leave them to come to my office and made some calls before going back to his vehicle.
“We got some hay for them and then he had the tyres changed and went on his way at about 2pm.”

She claimed the driver said the animals “were going for breeding to Ireland.”

She added: “I was ringing the zoos in Belfast and Dublin but no one had heard anything about them.
“They should not be transported like that over such long distances, it must be hell doing any distance in the back.”

The animals got to Dublin and arrived at Kilkenny’s Mart in time for opening on Wednesday, 18th January

Craig Redmond of Freedom for Animals contacted English, Welsh and Irish authorities but could not find anyone checking the animals’ welfare on the trip or on arrival.

He said: “These animals will probably now be on the road for most of the year to next autumn yet we could not find anyone who was checking on their welfare.
“No one appeared to check on them after the accident in Wales.”

A Dyfed Powys police spokesman confirmed the lorry had been involved in an accident. The animals were not inspected after the collision.

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