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There's a baBy gone missing . . . baby the elephant that is

BABY, the elephant who made an Olympic-style sprint for freedom from her Cork circus, is now the star of the show.

The three-tonne female elephant has become an internet sensation after she left her grazing area in Cork, dashed across a packed shopping centre car park and made straight for a road leading to a junction on the Cork-Limerick road.

Her handlers made a desperate attempt to gain control of Baby as she brushed off a parked car and headed towards the busy downtown junction.

Video of the break for freedom was captured by a man in a nearby office block -- and has become a hit on YouTube.

The footage has also been broadcast by ITV, Sky and the BBC, and the story has made UK and European newspapers.

Baby will now feature -- as planned -- in the Courtney Brothers Circus performances right up to this weekend.

Circus official Michelle Courtney told the Herald that Baby is one of the stars of their show -- and is a docile animal with a wonderful, gentle temperament.

"Handlers were with Baby at all times and she was simply trying to retrace the route that she had taken in the Blackpool parade the day before," she said.

Baby and other elephants marched in Fermoy in north Cork earlier this month -- and were greeted by cheering children and astonished drivers.

Eye-witness Paul Dunbar, said people were initially shocked and then worried.

"It was around 4.45pm on Tuesday evening when one of my colleagues noticed an elephant beside the coffee shop.

"Initially, we didn't know what was happening," he said.