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Reward offered in drive-by shooting of Ringling elephant in Mississippi

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The drive-by shooting of an elephant with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus in Mississippi has led to a $33,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction, authorities said on Thursday.

Carol, a 39-year-old Asian elephant, was hit in the shoulder in Tupelo on Tuesday by a shot fired from a passing vehicle. The elephant was in an enclosure outside an arena when it was shot.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a statement the shot left a dime-sized entry hole but the animal is "active, mobile and comfortable and is being treated with medication."

The shooting has been deemed a federal offense because the Asian elephant is an endangered species.

Tupelo Police Captain Rusty Haynes said the reward had risen to $33,000 by Thursday. No arrests have been made but police are checking leads, he said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said it was contributing to the reward along with Feld Entertainment Inc, the producer of the Ringling circus; George Carden Circus International; Crimestoppers of Northeast Mississippi; and former Mississippi congressman Travis Childers.

People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights group, said it was putting $5,000 toward the reward.

The circus was in Tupelo for several shows.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Greg McCune)

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