Investigation ongoing after 6 kids, 1 adult hurt in incident involving camel at Shrine Circus

6 kids, 1 adult hurt in incident involving camel at Shrine Circus at PPG Paints Arena

PITTSBURGH — Six children were taken to the hospital after an incident occurred Sunday during the Shrine Circus at PPG Paints Arena.

A spokesman for Pittsburgh Public Safety told Channel 11 the children and one adult were on a camel when it got spooked.

Five children were taken to Children's Hospital and one to UPMC Mercy. The most serious injury is a broken arm.

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Video sent to Channel 11 shows the camel buck and throw the children off its back.

At this point, it's unclear what caused the camel to get spooked. A veterinarian checked the animal and said it is fine.

The incident happened at intermission when, as part of the circus, children can get rides on the camels and ponies.

Witnesses described the scene as frightening and chaotic and told Channel 11 they were asked to go back to their seats and stay calm while handlers got the animal under control.

"We just heard them screaming and I turned around and there was a camel right outside the ring, but we just took off running and jumped over and waited," said Amanda Piccioni.

"Sixty-nine years without incident and, unfortunately, this is the first one," said Paul Leavy, chairman of the Shrine Circus. "We're ready to handle things like this. We're insured. We'll get back together and see what we'll do for next year."

Witnesses also commended the announcer for keeping everyone calm and remaining in control of the situation.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals issued the following statement on the incident:

"This dangerous incident is exactly what Pittsburgh's ban on using weapons to threaten wild and exotic animals should be preventing. Had the Shriners abided by the law and left animals out of their show, instead of taking the city to court, this camel and these children would have been spared this terror and possible injury. PETA is calling on the Syria Shriners to let this be the straw that ends the camel acts and urging the public never to buy a ticket to any circus that uses animals."