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In Memory of Tyke
(1973 - 20/08/1994)

"She knew she had to get out, and she would [have] to get away from it all. She knew she was in trouble. She knew she would be beaten a lot".[1]

"That's was the first natural thing thatTyke did in her life, and that was to run. She did it in Altoona. then North Dakota, and then finally in Hawaii, she acted like a real elephant. She said 'I'm not supposed to be here. I'm tired'. And on the final day of her life she exhibted real elephant behaviour and it didn't fit the streets of Hawaii".[2]
"I'm not supposed to be here. I'm tired."

From: Daily Mail

From: Huffington Post
From: Daily Urban Culture
From: Pittsburgh Indymedia
From: One Green Planet
From: Huffington Post
From Star Bulletin

Tyke's 'Final Performance' (click)

'Tyke was captured as a baby in Mozambique in 1973 and shipped to the United States, where she became the property of the Hawthorn Corporation, which specializes in supplying wild animals to circuses...
[At a 'show' on 20 August 1994], when Tyke's trainer attempts to intervene, the 9,500 pound animal wearing a silly pink hat crushes him, killing him instantly. Enraged and disoriented, Tyke then storms out of the arena and tears through the city streets as people flee in terror. Eventually police arrive and begin shooting, firing 87 bullets into the massive creature until it collapses dead onto a car, bleeding profusely'.[3]

'Tyke was a professional working-elephant who attempted her first escape from circus prison in April 1993, and a second three months later. These acts were, in the parlance of human psychology, cries for help. In August of 1994, she tried again. At a Circus International performance in Honolulu, Tyke turned on her trainer (who was described as a “punishment-type”), killing him, before seriously injuring her groomer. She then bolted for the door. The promoter attempted to corral her, and he too was wounded. As the terrified elephant made a desperate run for freedom down a Hawaii street, police opened fire. 86 times...
Documentation on Tyke first surfaced in 1988: “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]

'Tyke’s final day was preceded by four days confined on a ship traveling to yet another performance, 21 years of captivity, a humiliating life of performing, being beaten, chained and denied the simple act of behaving like an elephant. Captive Animals Protection Society (CAPS) believe there can be little mystery as to what motivated her to escape'[5].

'For the next year she performed in the circus and lived in a barren concrete barn, chained, between shows. The bullhook beatings continued. Her life stank. She vacillated between terror and boredom...
In August of 1994 Tyke reached a breaking point. She had been in the circus nearly 20 years. She was tired of being beaten, whipped, and kicked. She could no longer take the pain and the confinement. She was angry and wanted to be free. At an afternoon performance at the Neal Blaidsell Center in Honolulu, it all came to a head. At some point during the show, she veered from the script. Circus staff tried to beat her back, but no bullhook or whip could stop the rage that had been building inside her for two decades. She crushed her trainer, Allen Campbell. She attacked two other people. She panicked the crowd. She ran into the streets. It was rush hour. She was disoriented and no idea where she was. She charged at bystanders and smashed cars as she made her way through several city blocks. Onlookers screamed. The police were called out and started shooting at Tyke with rifles.
She slowly fell over, then awkwardly stood back up. The police kept firing. Her head swayed, and her legs buckled. She got up again. The spray of bullets continued. She rocked her head violently from side to side. Her legs gave way once more. She was on her knees and could not right herself. Her eyes were fully open and confused. The shooting went on for several more seconds. Finally, she fell, very slowly, onto her side.
This was Tyke's final performance. The price of freedom from the circus was steep. She was shot 87 times'.[6]
'After a chase through the city, police cornered the animal and shot her 86 or 87 times until she sank to the ground, still alive and moving. Local zoo officials then gave her a lethal injection'.[7]

'When Tyke died, the parks department disposed of the body at the Waimanalo Gulch landfill'...[8]

[Stefan Moore, the maker of the documentary 'Tyke: Elephant Outlaw'] 'was with the city truck driver who was ordered to load Tyke onto a flatbed truck and take her to Waimanalo Gulch Landfill in Nanakull. Moore wanted to film at the landfill but the city said no, adding that no one remembered exactly where Tyke was dumped...'[9]

Stefan Moore [the maker of the documentary 'Tyke: Elephant Outlaw'] 'thinks that Tyke's violent rampage — her third in 18 months — was prompted by trauma that began when she was captured in Mozambique.
"She witnessed her entire family killed in front of her," he said. "She was chained and flown to the U.S., where she spent the next 20 years of her life in captivity and made to perform".'[10]

'[In 1993], Tyke charged through an arena entryway in Altoona, Pa. Also in 1993, in North Dakota, she escaped from her trainer and trampled a handler. Campbell, the man in charge of Tyke...had cocaine and alcohol in his system at the time he died. Four years before that, he was fired from a job at the Denver Zoo after fellow employees accused him of abusing elephants.
In 1994, Campbell trained Moja [who killed a keeper at the the Pittsburgh Zoo in 2002] and four other elephants on an Illinois farm owned by John Cuneo, whose Hawthorn Corporation rents elephants to circuses...
In 1996, the federal government fined Cuneo $60,000 and suspended his license over animal cruelty charges. Cuneo was accused of sending sick elephants on the road with circuses. Two of the elephants died of tuberculosis'.[11]
'Elephants are social creatures in the wild with close-knit family units. They even perform funeral rituals and spend weeks mourning their dead. So those that have long been in circuses and zoos can come to exhibit symptoms of depression, aggression or post-traumatic stress disorder, most likely as a result of the confinement and isolation.
In 2006, the New York Times article described the trauma elephants undergo in captivity: “Being kept in relative confinement and isolation [is] a kind of living death for an animal as socially developed and dependent as we now know elephants to be". There have been many reports of elephants in captivity experiencing abuse by their handlers'.[12]

   Tyke's last performance

  Tyke's last day on earth (Youtube)

Wikipedia article

Media information

'Remembering Tyke: rebellious circus elephant, and her tragic death', Huffington Post, 19 August 2014

Everyone laughed, but something was wrong...

'Tyke, never forgotten'

In memory of Tyke (Youtube)

19 years since Tyke the circus elephant was brutally killed

'Elephant was exposed to violence', WTAE, 21 November 2002

'Circus elephant goes berserk, is shot after killing trainer', Los Angeles Times, 22 August 1994

'The moment a terrified rampaging elephant was shot almost 100 times in the street', Daily Mail, 20 August 2014

How do you kill an elephant?

The tragic life of Tyke the elephant

Trainer to give up elephants', Chicago Tribune, 9 March 2004

'She did the unimaginable and revealed why wild animals don’t belong in the circus', Mens-Den, 2015. (This includes the video: 'Tyke - the Final Show').

Tyke - the final show

IDA: Tyke's legacy

Wikipedia entry for Tyke's 'trainer'

USDA seizes circus elephants, Washington Post, 18 March 2004

USDA inspection record sheet (.doc file)

USDA and Hawthorn Corp.

'Slain elephant left tenuous legacy in animal rights', Honolulu Advertiser, 20 August 2004

'Shots killing elephant echo across a decade', Star Bulletin, 16 August 2004

Various comments about 'Tyke: Elephant Outlaw'

Tyke - elephant outlaw. Documentary

Documentary ‘Tyke Elephant Outlaw'

BBC Storyville

Background to Tyke documentary

'A must-see film: ‘Tyke Elephant Outlaw’'

'Documentary depicts Tyke as tragic figure, not outlaw', Honolulu Star Advertiser, 22 February 2015

Background to Tyke documentary

Memorial plate for Tyke
(Despite what the memorial plate says, she was NOT a 'circus elephant'. She was an African elephant, who was removed, as a from her homeland to the USA, after witnessing the slaughter of her family and forced to remain there to be used 'entertain' people in the circus, and died on her third, and final attempt to escape).

Tyke's death
   Bewilderlingly, there appear to be several versions of Tyke's death.
(a)She died from multiple bullet wounds.
(b)The bullets failed to kill her and zoo officials were summoned to administer a lethal injection.
(c)The third version is that Tyke was shot and wounded and she was then given a lethal injection: this failed to work and the police shot her again three more times 'at point blank range' and this killed her.
* ''Local police fired 86 shots in their pursuit of Tyke. She eventually collapsed of her wounds but she was not dead. Officials then administered what was supposed to be a lethal injection. When the injection did not kill her, police fired three more shots at point blank range. Tyke finally died".[13]
* "Tyke, with her star-emblazoned headdress still on and blood streaming down her legs, collapsed in the road, laying there motionless. She remained alive. Officials called the city zoo. Its employees soon arrived and gave the elephant a lethal injection...It did not work. So the police stepped in again and placed three more bullets into Tyke's body".[14]
* "When police had cornered the wounded Tyke, workers from the Honolulu Zoo arrived to give her a lethal injection. Afterwards, as a horrified crowd looked on, Tyke absorbed three more bullets".[15]
   The makers of the 'Tyke: Elephant Outlaw' documentary stated that one of the elephant keepers at the Honolulu Zoo told them it was version (c). After Tyke finally succumbed to the bullets fired at her, a member of the Honolulu Zoo staff was brought to the scene to put Tyke out of her misery with a lethal injection. However, this failed to work and a police officer with a high powered rifle (possibly obtained from a local gun shop) was told to fire three more shots into her heart.
   Incredibly, the police and the circus did not possess a tranquilliser gun (and even if they had, they would have surely argued it would have taken up to a half hour to take effect). Furthermore, the police had low powered weapons and had no idea of what parts of Tyke's body to fire bullets at in order to end her misery. In sum, it was a shambles and even in death Tyke had to suffer.
   As one police officer commented: 'The elephant reportedly took two hours to finally bleed to death'.[16]

   After the killing of Tyke, legislation was proposed in Hawaii. This can be found here. The proposed bill referred to Tyke and how 'a crane removed her bullet-ridden body' and that people had witnessed 'Tyke's slow and painful death'. Furthermore, her death 'was made even more horrendous because circus officials, zoo veterinarians, and police officers were not properly equipped and trained to effectively and mercifully kill a rampaging African elephant'. As noted, there have been 'four failed bills to ban exotic animal acts in Hawaii': two attempts were made in the Honolulu City Council and another two in the Hawaii Legislature and none were passed.[17] For later developments in the matter of Hawaii banning circuses, see item [11] in Aftermath.

   What is clear is that Tyke ran from the circus ring, bewildered and very scared and this increased when she encountered an environment with which she was wholly unfamiliar, i.e, streets full of vehicles and people. This would have been more than enough to terrify her. As she did this, Hawaiian police fired bullets into her, many into her head and as one report says, her eye(s) too. Her suffering was anything but quick. As stated:
'It was rush hour. She was disoriented and no idea where she was. She charged at bystanders and smashed cars as she made her way through several city blocks... The police were called out and started shooting at Tyke with rifles. She slowly fell over, then awkwardly stood back up. The police kept firing. Her head swayed, and her legs buckled. She got up again. The spray of bullets continued. She rocked her head violently from side to side. Her legs gave way once more. She was on her knees and could not right herself. Her eyes were fully open and confused. The shooting went on for several more seconds. Finally, she fell, very slowly, onto her side. This was Tyke's final performance. The price of freedom from the circus was steep. She was shot 87 times'.[18]
   As the article above remarks, the pitiful running around the local streets in fear and desperation as she sought safety, while she was also being shot with over eighty bullets, and then dying, still wearing the pink party hat the circus made her wear for her appearances, was indeed Tyke's 'final performance': This was the conclusion of 21 years of confinement, 'training', and being transported around the country to perform 'acts' for people who were entertained by such behaviour (Incredibly, despite all that happened that day, 'the circus went ahead with its Saturday evening show...'[19])

    * Media reports comment on how Tyke 'rampaged' for half an hour in the streets. On consulting the Map for the area, it can be seen that she did not manage to get very far. After escaping the circus at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center, Tyke travelled south-west along Ward Avenue and Queen Street (towards the coastline) and entered Ilaniwai Street, by which time she was injured and bleeding, Once in Ilaniwai Street, she underwent a slow painful death that apparently took hours. Her body was necropsied at the quarantine station and it was then taken to the landfill dump to be buried with tons of waste and rubbish and to then disappear under the refuse and rubbish that was subsequently dumped there. Some may argue that this serves as a suitable illustration of how humans treat and view circus animals.
    * The fact that Tyke had reacted with clear anger and aggression on three occasions during the previous year (see 'The Life of Tyke'), and these are just the reported cases, one naturally wonders why she continued to be used in a circus setting.
    * Noteworthy is how Joseph, an ex-Hawthorn Corp. employee, speaks in the 'Tyke: Elephant Outlaw' documentary, and comments on how Tyke appears to be listening for/to something during her attack on Campbell. Indeed, on watching the film, Tyke stops and her ear movements, which are very distinct, indicates that she is listening to something (Elephants have very good hearing and are also able to hear at levels not available to humans.[20]). Presumably this was related to the other elephants in the circus background. It therefore appears, sadly, that she believed the only beings who were interested in her plight at that time, were the other elephants, who were, of course, incapable of doing anything to assist.
   The video filming shows that her attack on her 'trainer' Campbell in the circus ring was deliberate and there can be no doubt that she intended to finish him off. Naturally, this leads to the question of why she felt the need to do this. What is known is the sad fact that as 20+ years' of rage and anguish had built up inside her, and she made the ultimate gesture to show her misery, she believed that she was entirely on her own and had no other choice...

   In conclusion, it may be said that the vast majority of human beings will find the account of Tyke to be distressing and a cause for very considerable concern. Her life, from capture to her death, denied her the opportunity of functioning and living as an elephant. It is not only her time as a 'performing elephant' and being 'trained' to amuse those people who saw fit to pay for and finance this life for her, but even her death was painful and one of humiliation, and the contempt with which she was treated in her final hours was further confirmed by how her body was disposed of.
   Nonetheless, for Tyke, it is possible, that for her, the conclusion was a victory. She killed her trainer and escaped the life that she hated, a fact that she had clearly demonstrated on numerous occasions previously. The pain and suffering she then experienced, as she ran through the streets. being repeatedly shot and bleeding, no doubt seemed to her to be simply yet more misery, something with which she had become so familiar throughout her life. Somewhere in Hawaii lies, under tons of refuse, a decomposing body of an African elephant who, on a warm afternoon in August 1994, gained what she had wanted for so long: lasting freedom from a circus environment.

Daily Mail

Star Bulletin

   It should be noted that, incredibly, this was not the first occasion when an elephant had reacted in Honolulu and was killed for this. This occurred with an elephant called Daisy in 1933. In 1916 Daisy had been purchased for Kapiolani Park, and according to one report 'children could be seen daily riding on her back around Kapiolani Park'. However, in 1933 Daisy attacked and trampled to death George Conradt, her 'keeper'. She was then shot by police and buried at sea. Another report states that Daisy arrived on a ship carrying animals for zoos and circuses, and Honolulu city merchants were persuaded 'to purchase Daisy and for years she delighted Honolulu children. Many recall riding as a youngster around the park on her back'. It goes on to say 'in 1933...for unexplained reasons, she attacked and trampled to death her keeper George Conradt'. She was then shot dead by police officers. It is truly amazing that the reason for her violent reaction - after 17 years - is said to be 'unexplained'. [21]
   One newspaper refers to how Conradt 'was leading her to her undersized shed', when she reacted. After flattening and killing Conradt, 'a squad of Honolulu police circled Daisy and opened fire. She fell dead at 3:50 p.m'. The report goes on to say 'Daisy had become ill-tempered and unmanageable, no doubt worsened by occasional cruel pranksters who burned her trunk with cigarettes or fed her chewing gum, which made her sick', and 'more than once, she [had] turned on spectators'. It also describes how Daisy lived 'spending her days giving children rides around the same dusty path at a dime apiece. In the evening she was confined to her tiny shed, restrained by a short, heavy chain attached to a stake'. [22] And yet her final reaction is said to be 'unexplained'?.
   As Tyke, Daisy had displayed clear signs of distress beforehand (injurying someone), and yet she was forced to continue working, Also, as Tyke, after Daisy was shot dead by police officers, her body was simply dumped out of sight, i.e, 'it was unceremoniously hauled four miles out to sea and dumped'.[22]

[1]Ex-employee of Hawthorn Corp., owner of Tyke. Quoted from 'Tyke: Elephant Outlaw'.
[2]Warden at Paws Sanctuary, San Andreas, California. Quoted from 'Tyke: Elephant Outlaw'.
[3]Frank Scheck, 'Tyke, elephant outlaw: film-review', Hollywood Reporter, 4 September 2015.
[4]Patrick J. Battuello, 'Tyke’s rebellion', Times-Union, 18 December 2013.
[5]'The tragic life of Tyke the elephant'. Captive Animals Protection Society.
[6]'Tyke's last performance', Animal Writings, 7 March 2005.
[7]Laura Malt Schneiderman, 'Remembering an elephant rampage in Altoona', Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 28 July 2014.
[8]'‘Tyke’ was buried in isle landfill', Star Bulletin, 24 March 1999.
[9]Mike Gordon, 'Documentary depicts Tyke as tragic figure, not outlaw', Honolulu Star Advertiser, 22 February 2015.
[10]Mike Gordon, 'Tale of Tyke the elephant disturbs, inspires filmmaker', Honolulu Star Advertiser. 25 August 2013.
[11]'Team 4: Elephant was exposed to violence', WTAE, 21 November 2002
[12]Tessa Berenson, 'Why the circus is saying goodbye to elephants', Time. 5 March 2015.
[13]David Alan Nibert, Animal Rights, Human Rights: Entanglements of Oppression and Liberation, Rowman and Littlefield, (2002), p.78.
[14]J. Hribal and J. St. Clair, Fear of the Animal Planet: The Hidden History of Animal Resistance , CounterPunch. (2013).
[15]Kim Stallwood, ed, A Primer on Animal Rights: Leading Experts Write about Animal Cruelty and Animal Cruelty and Exploitation, Lantern Books (2004), p.131.
[16]'Shooting to kill an animal: A sad but necessary skill', Policeone, 5 December 2011.
[17]Will Hoover, Op. cit.
[18]'Tyke's last performance', Animal Writings, 7 March 2005.
[19]'Circus elephant goes berserk, is shot after killing trainer', Los Angeles Times, 22 August 1994.
[20]e.g., http://elephant.elehost.com/About_Elephants/Senses/Hearing/hearing.html
[21]http://www.discover-oahu.com/honolulu-zoo.html and http://waikiki.com/zoo.html
[22]'1933 attack cost life of beloved zoo star', Honolulu Advertiser, 22 August 2004. http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2004/Aug/20/ln/ln21a.html