An elephant has escaped from a circus and killed a man in southwest Germany.

Police in Heilbronn say the 65-year-old man was taking his regular morning stroll in the woods when the elephant attacked him, causing fatal injuries.

The incident happened in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The 34-year-old female elephant, called 'Baby,' was captured and returned to the circus.

Police say they are investigating whether someone let the elephant out of its enclosure, and why the animal acted aggressively toward the man.