Elephants and tiger
Three elephants and a tiger have all been loose on Georgia's interstates this autumn. TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images and RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

Three African elephants were forced onto a US interstate early on Monday morning (20 November), just two months after a circus tiger escaped and was shot dead on a busy road in the same state.

All three elephants were safely evacuated from their trailer when its tractor set on fire at about 2am on Interstate 24 East, just across the state line in Georgia from Tennessee. Chattanooga Fire Department, who attended the scene, said: "The owners got the elephants safely out of the trailer and gave them some hay to munch on while firefighters put the fire out."

Battalion Chief Lesley Morgan said the animals were huge but well behaved, and luckily were not injured. The owners quickly made calls to get another tractor to the location so they could keep the elephants moving on their way to Sarasota, Florida.

Federal investigators are still deciding whether charges should be filed following a tiger's escape from a truck on 7 September, according to WSB-TV. The Atlanta news station reported that charges could be filed against Feld Entertainment, the owner of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey's circus, and big cat trainer Alexander Lacey.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources has handed over the investigation to the US Department of Agriculture as multiple states were involved and it involves wild animal regulations.

Feld Entertainment was transporting 14 big cats Florida to Tennessee when the truck stopped to feed the animals and one, six-year-old Bengal tiger Suzy, got loose. Numerous sightings of Suzy were then reported along Interstate 75 before the entertainment company was reportedly even aware of her disappearance. Suzy, who was about to be returned to European handler Lacey after the circus run had finished, was instead shot dead by law enforcement after attacking a pet dog.