Tyke (1973 – August 20, 1994) was a female African bush elephant from Mozambique who performed with Circus International of Honolulu, Hawaii. On August 20, 1994, during a performance at the Neal Blaisdell Center, she killed her trainer, Allen Campbell, and seriously injured her groomer, Dallas Beckwith. Tyke then ran from the arena and through the streets of the Kakaʻako central business district for more than thirty minutes. Unable to calm the elephant, local police opened fire on the animal, which collapsed from the wounds and died. While the majority of the attack in the arena was recorded on consumer videotape by several spectators, additional professional video footage captured the attack on local publicist Steve Hirano and the shooting of Tyke herself (both of which took place outside of the building).

Tyke running through the streets, minutes before being shot to death
SpeciesLoxodonta africana
Born1973 (1973)
DiedAugust 20, 1994(1994-08-20) (aged 20–21)
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Cause of deathGunshot wounds (shot 86 times)
OccupationCircus elephant
Known forRampaging through Kakaʻako, killing Allen Campbell and injuring 13 others

Background edit

A circus elephant going out of control of their circus was not unprecedented. On February 1, 1992, at the Great American Circus in Palm Bay, Florida, an elephant named Janet (born 1965) went out of control while giving a ride to a mother, her two children, and three other children. The elephant then stampeded through the circus grounds outside before being shot to death by police.[1]

Tyke lashes out edit

According to Tyrone Taylor, Tyke's responsible trainer at the time (interviewed in documentary film), Tyke had been involved in three incidents prior to the attack of August 1994.[2][3]

April 21–22, 1993 edit

On April 21, 1993, Tyke escaped through the front doors of the Altoona, Pennsylvania Jaffa Shrine Center during a performance, remaining untethered for an hour. The rampage caused more than $14,000 in damage. An affidavit obtained from a circus worker by the USDA the following day stated that Tyke had also attacked a tiger trainer, while the circus was in Altoona.[4]

July 23, 1993 edit

On July 23, 1993, Tyke "ran amok at the North Dakota State Fair in Minot, North Dakota, trampling and injuring a handler and frightening the crowd as [she] ran uncontrolled for 25 minutes".

According to USDA and Canadian law enforcement documents, while a Hawthorn elephant named Tyke (possibly the same Tyke involved in the four aforementioned incidents), was performing with Tarzan Zerbini Circus, "The elephant handler was observed beating the single-tusk African elephant in public to the point [where] the elephant was screaming and bending down on three legs to avoid being hit. Even when the handler walked by the elephant after this, the elephant screamed and veered away, demonstrating fear from his presence."[4]

Casualties edit

External videos
  "Tyke the Elephant's Last Day on Earth" (contains graphic content)

On August 20, 1994, during a performance at Circus International in Honolulu, Hawaii, Tyke trampled and critically injured her groomer, Dallas Beckwith, throwing him around numerous times in the process, before killing her trainer, Allen Campbell, who was knocked to the ground, dragged and crushed to death under Tyke's massive trunk after he attempted to save Beckwith from being trampled to death during the attack. She then charged out of the arena and onto the streets outside. She additionally attacked and nearly crushed publicist Steve Hirano, who tried to stop her from escaping from the circus parking lot. A nearby police officer seeing the attack fired multiple shots in the direction of the elephant, distracting her and causing her to flee away from Hirano. After a half-hour of chasing Tyke down, local police officers fired 86 shots at the 8,000-lb (3600 kg) elephant. Tyke finally collapsed from the numerous wounds and died.[5]

Aftermath edit

Following the Hawaii accident of August 20, 1994, Tyke became a symbol of circus tragedies and of animal rights.[6] In the aftermath, lawsuits were filed against the City of Honolulu, the State of Hawaii, the circus, and Tyke's owner, John Cuneo Jr. and his Hawthorn Corp. Honolulu lawyer William Fenton Sink sued Cuneo on behalf of numerous plaintiffs, including young children, who suffered psychological trauma after witnessing Tyke's killing. While the lawsuits were settled out of court, the details of the monetary decision were kept sealed from publication. In honor of Sink's work in the Tyke case, Animal Rights Hawaii renamed its "Order of the Innocent Award", The William Fenton Sink Award for Defense of Animals.[7]

Allen Campbell's autopsy revealed that he died from severe internal injuries, including major skull and chest fractures.[8][9]

The Tyke incident inspired legislation on local levels in Hawaii and abroad, while California Congressman Sam Farr introduced legislation (HR2323) into the House of Representatives in 1999 and again in 2012.[10]

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), although the US Animal Welfare Act of 1966 does not permit any sort of punishment that puts the animals in discomfort,[11] trainers will still go against this law and use such things as electric rods and bullhooks.[12] According to PETA, during an undercover investigation of Carson & Barnes Circus, video footage was captured showing animal care director Tim Frisco training endangered Asian elephants with electrical shock prods and instructing other trainers to "beat the elephants with a bullhook as hard as they can and sink the sharp metal hook into the elephant's flesh and twist it until they scream in pain".[12]

On behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands, Wageningen University conducted an investigation into the welfare of circus animals in 2008.[13] The following issues, among others, were found:

  • 71% of the observed animals had medical problems.
  • Elephants are shackled in chains for 17 hours a day on average.
  • Elephants spend on average 10 hours a day showing stereotypic behaviour.

Based on these findings, the researchers called for more stringent regulation regarding the welfare of circus animals. In 2012, the Dutch government announced a ban on the use of wild circus animals.[14]

In testimony in U.S. District Court in 2009, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus CEO Kenneth Feld acknowledged that circus elephants are struck behind the ears, under the chin and on their legs with metal tipped prods, called bullhooks. Feld stated that these practices are necessary to protect circus workers. Feld also acknowledged that an elephant trainer was reprimanded for using an electric shock device, known as a hot shot or electric prod, on an elephant, which Feld also stated was appropriate practice. Feld denied that any of these practices harm elephants.[15] In its January 2010 verdict on the case, brought against Feld Entertainment International by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals et al., the Court ruled that evidence against the circus company was "not credible with regard to the allegations".[16] In lieu of a USDA hearing, Feld Entertainment Inc. (parent of Ringling Bros.) agreed to pay an unprecedented $270,000 fine for violations of the Animal Welfare Act that allegedly occurred between June 2007 and August 2011.[17]

A 14-year litigation against the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus came to an end in 2014 when The Humane Society of the United States and a number of other animal rights groups paid a $16 million settlement to Feld Entertainment; however, the circus closed in May 2017 after a 146-year run when it experienced a steep decline in ticket sales a year after it discontinued its elephant act and sent its pachyderms to a reserve.[18][19]

In December 2018, New Jersey became the first state in the U.S. to ban circuses, carnivals and fairs from featuring elephants, tigers, and other exotic animals.[20]

In popular culture edit

Christian thrash metal band Tourniquet, known for its stance against animal abuse, wrote the song "86 Bullets" about Tyke for their 2012 album Antiseptic Bloodbath.[21]

Tyke is also seen on The History Channel show Shockwave, World's Most Amazing Videos,[22] Banned from Television,[23] and Maximum Exposure.[24]

The Hawaii Five-O remake also mentions the Honolulu attack in Season 6, Episode 20 Ka Haunaele (Rampage).

Hard rock band 86 Bullets was named after the killing of Tyke, and have a song about the incident, "Hail of Bullets," that appears on their 2017 ep, "The Elephant in the Room."[25]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ St. Petersburg Times (6 May 1993). "Elephant incidents in recent years". Retrieved 19 April 2010.
  2. ^ "Documentary: Tyke Elephant Outlaw (2015 Lambert, Moore)". IMDb.
  3. ^ Valencia, Nanette. "The film TYKE ELEPHANT OUTLAW". American Film Institute.
  4. ^ a b "Factsheet: Hawthorn Corporation (John Cuneo)" (PDF). Peta.org. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. 22 June 2010. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
  5. ^ Vorsino, Mary (2003-12-21). "Steve Hirano obituary". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
  6. ^ Bernardo, Rosemarie (2004-08-16). "Shots killing elephant echo across a decade". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
  7. ^ Hoover, Will (2004-08-20). "Slain elephant left tenuous legacy in animal rights". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
  8. ^ Sahagun, Louis (1994-10-11). "Elephants Pose Giant Dangers". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
  9. ^ Parsons, Jim (2002-11-21). "Team 4: Elephant Was Exposed to Violence - Team 4 News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh". WTAE, Team 4. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
  10. ^ Strand, Patti (2012-01-09). "Congress Considers Ban on Performing Elephants". National Animal Interest Alliance. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
  11. ^ "Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare Regulations". Nal.usda.gov. Archived from the original on 16 April 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  12. ^ a b "Circuses: Three Rings of Abuse". Peta.org. Archived from the original on 26 July 2010. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  13. ^ "19 february 2008 – Projectvoorstel Ministerie LNV onderzoek welzijn circusdieren" (PDF). 19 February 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  14. ^ "Dutch government announces ban on the use of wild animals in circuses". 1 November 2012. Archived from the original on 14 May 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  15. ^ Circus CEO says elephants are struck, but not hurt[dead link]
  16. ^ Court Record, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Civil Action No 03-2006 (EGS)
  17. ^ Leigh Remizowski, "USDA Fines Ringling Bros. Circus Over Treatment of Animals, Archived 18 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine" CNN 29 November 2011.
  18. ^ Heath, Thomas (16 May 2014). "Ringling Circus prevails in 14-year legal case; collects $16M from Humane Society, others". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  19. ^ (1) Wang, Amy B (15 January 2017). "Animal activists finally have something to applaud at Ringling Bros. circus: Its closure". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 June 2017. In 2015, Ringling Bros. announced it would stop using elephants in its shows. The lumbering mammals delivered their final performances last May — dancing, spinning and standing on pedestals at the command of the ringmaster — and then were retired to a reserve in central Florida. The move exacerbated the show's demise; the elephants' departure ultimately expedited what was a 'difficult business decision'. 'Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop', Kenneth Feld said in a statement Saturday. 'This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.' (2) Brulliard, Karin (21 May 2017). "Thunderous applause, tears as the 'greatest show on Earth' takes a final bow". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 June 2017. ... Ringling had become the target of animal protection groups that claimed it mistreated its elephants, and the two sides soon locked in a 14-year legal battle so cutthroat it involved secret informants paid by animal groups and a former CIA official who was paid by Ringling's parent company, Feld Entertainment, to spy on activists and a journalist. The litigation ended with several animal groups paying a $16 million settlement to Feld. While the animal activists never prevailed against Ringling in court, they were victorious outside. The allegations of elephant abuse prompted municipalities around the country to ban elephant bullhooks — a sharp metal tool used by handlers — or to prohibit wild animal performances altogether, as Los Angeles recently moved to do. After Ringling retired its last pachyderms to a company-owned elephant conservation center in Florida, ticket sales declined much more than Feld expected, and the company announced in January that Ringling would close for good.
  20. ^ Megan Burrow, "New Jersey becomes first state to ban wild animal circus acts", North Jersey Record, 15 December 2018.
  21. ^ "Antiseptic Bloodbath". Bandcamp.com. July 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
  22. ^ "World's Most Amazing Videos: Tyke the Elephant Rampage". YouTube. 2017-03-28. Archived from the original on 2021-12-19.
  23. ^ "Banned From TV 2 (1998)". YouTube. 2017-10-09. Archived from the original on 2021-12-19.
  24. ^ "Maximum Exposure 01x03: Nasty, Nasty Critters". YouTube. 2016-11-29. Archived from the original on 2021-12-19.
  25. ^ "86 Bullets - Music". 86bullets.com. Retrieved 2021-03-17.

External links edit