It isn't usual for animals to save humans and their properties, so when authorities discovered two elephants holding up an 18-wheeler truck to prevent it from dipping into a ditch, they were more than surprised.

Authorities at the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office say two of three Asian elephants were holding their massive five-ton bodies against the side of a 2000 Kenworth 18-wheeler trailer truck, the same truck that was hauling them from Florida to a circus in Dallas, Texas, which was stuck in the mud on the side of the highway and was on the verge of tipping over into a ditch.

In a statement, Natchitoches Parish authorities say they received a call at a little past 7 a.m. asking for help to get a stranded truck back into the road on Interstate 49 near the Powhatan exit in Natchitoches. When responders arrived, they saw the two elephants keeping the truck from keeling over.

"When deputies arrived on the scene, they were astounded to find two elephants keeping the eighteen wheeler from overturning," said the local authorities in a statement.

Upon investigation, deputies learned that the driver pulled over into the edge of a soft shoulder, where the ground had become soft after several rains. The truck was pulled out through the services of the local wrecker. Authorities say the driver did not receive any citations.

The elephants, we can presume, went back to their way to a circus in Frisco, where they are scheduled to appear at the Shrine Circus. Photographs taken by authorities show a man, who is presumably the elephants' caretaker, sticking an elephant bullhook, a device used by circus workers to goad the pachyderms into doing something at a human's behest, into one of the elephants' upper front legs as the animals prop up the 18-wheeler.

Elephants and other wild animals being forced into circuses have long been a cause of concern for animal rights advocates, who argue that the endangered animals being used for entertainment are not treated well. The call to keep animals, especially elephants, out of the circus has been heard, as the Associated Press says Feld Entertainment will start phasing out the elephant shows in Ringling Bros. and Burnum & Bailey, the world's largest circus, which has been featuring elephant shows for more than a hundred years.

Ringling's elephants will be transferred to a 200-acre elephant sanctuary in Central Florida owned by its parent company.

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