Was runaway elephant's food spiked?

Baby on the loose.

The owners of a circus, whose elephant ran amok in Cork last week, have said they are investigating the possibility the animal's food was tampered with after it

crushed a staff member.

The huge elephant, named Baby, made a dash for freedom through Blackpool in Cork and footage of handlers attempting to stop the 2.5 ton beast has since been viewed across the globe.

However, one circus handler was seriously injured by the elephant, as he cleaned its pen after it was returned following the escape. The Spanish national, Justino Munez, suffered severe internal injuries when Baby fell on top of him after being charged by another elephant. At the time of going to press, Munez was described as being in a "critical" condition.

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The Courtney Brothers' Circus owners described the incident as an "unfortunate accident, and boss Wayne Courtney said: "The man was just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"We have two theories. Elephant's are very intelligent, sensitive animals and we have suspicions that the others may have been jealous of the attention Baby has been getting since last week's incident. But we also believe the elephants may have been interfered with, or fed something.

"Too many things have happened since we arrived in Cork. There are too many ifs and buts for all this to be a coincidence."

The crushing was witnessed by local woman Sabrina Walsh, who explained in horrific detail the moment Baby fell on the handler.

"I could see his legs sticking out from under the elephant's body," she said.

"The elephant had to rock top get back up and I heard the man scream in agony, then his legs and arms started to twitch.

"It took a few minutes to get over to him and a while for the ambulance to get there. I don't think the circus people realized how seriously injured he was."