Audience members at a Pennsylvania circus this week got an unexpected jolt when a camel ride went wrong.
According to KDKA-TV, the incident occurred at about 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. The Shrine Circus presented the event and provided animal rides for spectators during an intermission in the show.
A witness recalled seeing a child pick up a shovel used to clean up after the circus animals and throw the tool at the animal’s feet.
The camel was tethered as animal handlers guided it, according to the Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety.
A police statement indicated the camel “got spooked” and began bucking. The animal was reportedly out of control for about 11 seconds, at which time its handlers were able to calm it down.
The ordeal was captured on cellphone video and uploaded to Facebook.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please remain calm,” an announcer in the video is heard telling the crowd. “Please remain calm. No unnecessary movement. Slowly leave the arena floor if you feel safer. We are looking for a medic, an EMT.”
As Fox News reported, all seven of the riders — one adult and six children — were transported to an area hospital for treatment.
The most serious injury initially reported was a broken arm sustained by one child.
Police did not immediately confirm witness reports regarding what might have caused the camel to react in such a manner.
Audience member Ruthie Kester told local reporters that she saw exactly what happened.
“They were giving camel rides and camels were walking around calmly,” she said. “And then a kid threw a shovel at the camel’s feet, which startled the camel and it started to buck.”
Marlo Shipeck described the frantic aftermath of the disruption and the toll it took on her child.
“They went crazy and just started running everywhere and (my daughter) was holding onto me and she was super scared and she was crying,” Shipeck said.
During the frantic seconds before its handlers were able to regain control, audience member Jenny Lynch said the camel resembled “a bucking bronco” as it threw the riders onto the ground, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
She said she saw one girl fall, followed by a woman “holding onto the littlest one” who “fell right onto her head.”
Lynch, who was at the event with her husband and three children, said the camel began running “toward the exit” as circus workers managed to get the upper hand.
“I was shouting, ‘Jesus help them,'” she said. “It was very scary.”
In addition to camels, handlers also led ponies and elephants on rides around the arena during the intermission.
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