Tyke (1974 – August 20, 1994) was an African elephant who performed with Circus International of Honolulu, Hawaii. On August 20, 1994, she made her final attempt at escape during a performance at the Neal Blaisdell Center. In the streets of the Kakaako central business district, she roamed for more than thirty minutes before police fired 86 shots at the animal, who collapsed from existing wounds and died from the shots. 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).
April 21–22, 1993
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.
July 23, 1993
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."
On August 20, 1994, during a performance at Circus International in Honolulu, Hawaii, Tyke trampled her groomer, Dallas Beckwith, before killing her trainer, Allen Campbell, who attempted to save Dallas from the attack. She then charged out of the arena and onto the streets outside. She additionally attacked publicist Steve Hirano, who tried to stop her from escaping the circus' parking lot. After a half-hour of chasing Tyke down, local police officers fired 86 shots at the 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg) elephant. Tyke finally collapsed from the wounds and died.
Following the Hawaii attack of August 20, 1994, Tyke became emblematic of circus tragedies and a symbol for animal rights. 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 injuries after witnessing Tyke's killing. While the lawsuits were settled out of court, the details of the monetary decision was 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.
Allen Campbell's autopsy revealed that he had cocaine and alcohol in his system at the time of his death. Officials at the Denver Zoo confirmed that there were complaints of animal abuse filed against Campbell during the late 1980s, when he operated an elephant and camel ride concession in the city.
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.
In popular culture
Experimental hardcore punk/powerviolence band Man Is the Bastard wrote the song "Tyke", about the elephant's escape and rebellion. The song was included on their 1995 album Thoughtless....
- List of individual elephants
- Elephant attacks
- Topsy (elephant)
- Mary (elephant)
- Rogue elephant of Aberdare Forest
- "Factsheet: Hawthorn Corporation (John Cuneo)" (PDF). Peta.org. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- Vorsino, Mary (2003-12-21). "Steve Hirano obituary". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- Bernardo, Rosemarie (2004-08-16). "Shots killing elephant echo across a decade". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- Hoover, Will (2004-08-20). "Slain elephant left tenuous legacy in animal rights". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- Sahagun, Louis (1994-10-11). "Elephants Pose Giant Dangers". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
- Parsons, Jim (2002-11-21). "Elephant Was Exposed To Violence". WTAE, Team 4. Archived 24 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Strand, Patti (2012-01-09). "Congress Considers Ban on Performing Elephants". National Animal Interest Alliance. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- "Antiseptic Bloodbath". Bandcamp.com. July 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- PETA TV: Circus Elephants (video footage of the attack)
- "Resistance is Never Futile" by Jason Hribal, article about animal escapes (including Tyke) at CounterPunch