A runaway hippopotamus that escaped from a circus in Spain has been spotted casually wandering the streets, eating grass from a central reservation and stopping traffic. The heavyweight escapee had made a break from a circus in Palos de la Frontera, near Huelva in the south west of the country.

It is unclear how the hippo made its escape from the nearby circus and the animal, which can tip the scales at 3,000kg, or twice the weight of an average car, was quickly detained and returned to the circus. The sub-Saharan herbivores may look placid but they are known for their grumpy nature.

They have a ferocious charge, can reach speeds of up to 20mph (32kph) and are renowned as one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. But the residents of Palos de la Frontera were clearly unaffected by the beast wandering through the town.

One onlooker said: "Rather than causing any sort of alarm or panic, everyone seemed pretty cool with the situation." A video of the happy hippo was quickly posted to social media with one post saying: "A hippo has escaped from a circus. It's walking around Palos de la Frontera!"

Emergency services were called and police and circus staff were able to round him up. No one was injured in the escape.

It is not the first unexpected urban animal escape. Last week, a black bear went on the loose in Los Angeles, climbing trees to avoid capture before eventually returning to the Angeles National Forest.

In February last year two escaped llamas led authorities in Phoenix on a long chase through the city as audiences worldwide were captivated by live video of their escapades filmed from television news helicopters. The so-called "llama drama" began when a large white llama and a slightly smaller black companion were spotted roaming the north-western Arizona suburb of Sun City.

They were pursued by deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and members of the public, often skipping away from capture at the last moment. They were eventually lassoed and brought back to their owners.

Llama drama whips up Twitter storm - watch the journey IBTimes UK