YOUNGSTOWN - In a competition pitting man against beast on Thursday, Youngstown police officers squared off against four elephants in a doughnut-eating contest.
The action was fierce and, in the end, the oversized appetites of the pachyderms proved to be too much to overcome.
Unofficial tallies gave the elephants a decisive win during the eat-off in the Covelli Centre parking lot, but Patrolman Joe Moran, who was positioned directly beside one of the massive herbivores, had trouble focusing on the food.
"I was ready to take off and hide behind one of these cars if one of these guys started acting up," Moran laughed. "They are huge animals."
The event kicked off the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' "Built to Amaze" show, which will be housed at the Covelli Centre this weekend.
Also taking part in the competition were patrolmen Mike Anderson, Jim Sobien and Mike Quinn, who got involved to help the Youngstown Police Athletic League. The circus will donate tickets to YPAL as a part of the promotion.
Youngstown police officers Mike Quinn, left, and Joe Moran get a helping hand — or trunk, as in this case — from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephants during the doughnut-eating contest Thursday afternoon in the Covelli Centre parking lot.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
"We're all winning out here just because we have an opportunity to help the kids," Quinn said.
"Built To Amaze" marks the 143rd edition of the Greatest Show On Earth circus tour. The show will include acrobats, clowns and, of course, animals such as the elephants and several tigers.
Taylor Albin, who works as a clown during the show, joked with the many spectators of the eat-off.
"What this event was designed to do was to have a lot of fun with our elephants and to bring our police out and get them involved as well," Albin said.
The circus will get under way from 3 to 7 p.m. today at the 229 E. Front St. venue. It will also run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
"Youngstown is a beautiful city and we're very happy to be here," Albin said.