Three circus elephants, seen here as they bath in a lake (AFP photo)

HANOI — A circus elephant in Vietnam scooped up an 11-year-old girl with its trunk as she tried to feed it, threw her to the ground and trampled her to death, police said.

Nguyen Thao Anh was offering sugarcane to the animal in the city of Lao Cai, on the Chinese border, on Sunday when the attack happened, said police officer Phan Van Quang.
“She was trampled to death on the spot”, he told AFP.

Nguyen Xuan Quang, deputy director of the Vietnam Circus Federation, said the girl’s father had taken her in to feed the elephant, which was in a fenced compound with its legs chained.

The father was talking on his telephone when the attack happened, Quang added.

Children had been teasing the elephant — a veteran circus performer whose behaviour was normally good, he added.

“We postponed our last show in the city yesterday because of the accident,” Quang said.