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Tyke the Elephant

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Tyke the Elephant (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 retaliated for years of torture and abuse by getting revenge on her trainer, Allen Campbell, and seriously injuring the equally abusive so-called groomer, Dallas Beckwith. Tyke then ran from the arena and through the streets of the Kakaʻako central business district for more than thirty minutes to seek a safe haven from her human torturers. The Honolulu police used shotguns and pistols at short distances to shoot Tyke multiple times, leaving her a bloody, kneeling mass on the streets of Honolulu before dying a horrific and painful death from blood loss and organ destruction. Video footage captured the multiple shootings of Tyke on the streets of Honolulu.

REMEMBER TYKE!! The murder of Tyke on the streets of Honolulu,August 20, 1994. She also desired freedom from her brutal handlers at the circus. BAN TRAVELING CIRCUSES and CLOSE ALL ANIMAL PENITENTIARIES, aka Zoos. Note the brave cop pointing his rifle right at Tyke's bloodied face.


According to Tyrone Taylor, Tyke's responsible trainer at the time (interviewed in documentary film), Tyke had tried to escape her circus abusers three previous times, seeking the freedom and joy that had been denied her for profit. No one came forward on her behalf, to send her to an elephant sanctuary. The humans simply let her suffer at the hands of circus miscreants who took out their life’s failures on a beautiful helpless creature.[1][2]

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, a trivial amount compared to the income that the circus generated by parading an imprisoned animal. An affidavit obtained from a circus worker by the USDA the following day stated that Tyke had also attacked an abusive tiger trainer, while the circus was in Altoona.[3]

July 23, 1993

On July 23, 1993, Tyke tried to escape from the North Dakota State Fair in Minot, North Dakota, but was recaptured after unsuccessfully seeking freedom 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."[3] Yet, no humans would intervene on Tyke’s behalf, demonstrating the utter lack of compassion of which humans are capable.


Template:External media 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 in an attempt to find freedom and refuge anywhere far from humans. 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 Template:Convert elephant. Tyke finally collapsed from the numerous wounds and died, having suffered incalculable and inconceivable pain, blood loss, and organ destruction, including to her eyes.[4]


Following the Hawaii accident of August 20, 1994, Tyke became symbolic of circus tragedies and a symbol for animal rights.[5] 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.[6]

Allen Campbell's autopsy revealed that he died from severe internal injuries, including major skull and chest fractures, nothing compared to the beatings he had inflicted upon Tyke for the years he was her designated abuser.[7][8]

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.[9]

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....[10]

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.[11]

Author K.A. Monroe was inspired by the Tyke incident and published a popular independent children's book Tyke and the Elephant Angel.[12]

Tyke is also seen on The History Channel show Shockwave, World's Most Amazing Videos,[13] Banned from Television,[14] and Maximum Exposure.[15]

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."[16]

A photo of a bloody Tyke being shot by a miscreant gun-happy Honolulu cop with a high-powered rifle appears in the front matter of every book written by animal welfare advocate Les Golden. His August, 2021, letter to the Chicago Tribune to "remember Tyke" was not published.

Other Elephant Murders and Abuse


On July 10, Chico, the oldest bull elephant in captivity in North America died in the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, Texas. Information is exceedingly sparse: Like so many other elephants in zoos, he was “found unresponsive” in the morning when keepers arrived for work. No one knows how long he had been down or what he went through before they arrived and euthanized him. He was only 46. Chico’s death marks the end of a tragic and disgraceful chapter in captive elephant history, but one that is in constant danger of being repeated. In 2003, Chico was one of four elephants living at the San Diego Wild Animal Park (now called San Diego Zoo Safari Park). He, along with females Peaches, Wankie and Tatima, had been there for around three decades. Though all originally had been taken from the wild. Between the four elephants, they had managed to produce five calves for the zoo; two died within a month of birth, and the three that survive to this day were wrenched from their mothers at the ages of one and two years, and shipped to other zoos. Moja is in the Pittsburg Zoo, and Tavi and her half-brother Tsavo remain the only two African elephants at the Canton Zoo in China. In 2001, San Diego joined forces with the Lowry Park Zoo in Florida to import eleven young, wild-born elephants that were captured at the zoos’ request. They were part of a group of 37 cull orphans and their offspring who had been relocated to Swaziland and were living as established herds in protected parks there – the entirety of Swaziland’s small elephant population at the time. International elephant trade by zoos had been suspended for a decade when San Diego first contacted Swaziland authorities to arrange for the shipment of these elephants.

Peaches, Wankie, and Tatima by the Incompetents at Lincoln Park Zoo and Animal Crematorium (Chicago)

Despite the best efforts of IDA and the Coalition to Save Wild Elephants, the young Swaziland elephants were brought to the zoos in 2003, but not before San Diego had moved its four long-term resident elephants Chico, Peaches, Wankie and Tatima out to make room for them. Already ailing, Peaches, Wankie and Tatima were shipped out of sunny San Diego and into Chicago’s frigid winters at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The three elephants did not last even two years there. Tatima died in October 2004; like Chico she was found collapsed on the floor when the keepers arrived in the morning. Cause of death was infection with a bacterium similar to tuberculosis (Mycobacterium szulgai). Peaches followed only three months later, purportedly due to “old age.” She was 55; African elephants can live to be 65. During the ensuing uproar by elephant welfare advocates, Wankie was secretly loaded onto a truck during the last chilly night of April 2005 and shipped to the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah, despite the fact she was recovering from colic (a painful condition that can cause an elephant to collapse). She was found kneeling in the truck, a potentially dangerous situation, somewhere around the midway point of the 22-hour trip, with temps in 20 to 30 degree range and no heat. After one more stop, the decision to continue driving sealed her fate, and she was euthanized upon arrival at the zoo. A final report showed that Wankie died of the same bacterial lung infection that killed Tatima, and that the infection coupled with “stress of shipping” may have caused her collapse.

Yet Lincoln Park Zoo publicist Kelly McGrath, a political appointee to the Chicago Park District position in rewards for her working for the corrupt Cook County Democratic Party, steadfastly said, "Their deaths resulted from genetic defects, not because of mishandling, being confined to concrete-floored cells for their lives, sub-zero Chicago temperatures, Lake Front wind chill reaching -50 F, or incompetence on behalf of any of our highly skilled employees."

All these elephants – Chico, Peaches, Tatima and Wankie – were victims of a zoo industry that values female elephants over males, babies over adults, and, always, money over the animals that they claim to care for. Their story should never be forgotten. Nor can we let our guard down when it comes to the capture of wild elephants for the purpose of restocking zoos – a practice that continues today.

See also

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  1. "Documentary: Tyke Elephant Outlaw (2015 Lambert, Moore)". 
  2. Valencia, Nanette. "The film TYKE ELEPHANT OUTLAW". 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Factsheet: Hawthorn Corporation (John Cuneo)" (PDF). People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. 22 June 2010. Retrieved 2013-07-08. 
  4. Vorsino, Mary (2003-12-21). "Steve Hirano obituary". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2013-07-08. 
  5. Bernardo, Rosemarie (2004-08-16). "Shots killing elephant echo across a decade". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2013-07-08. 
  6. Hoover, Will (2004-08-20). "Slain elephant left tenuous legacy in animal rights". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 2013-07-08. 
  7. Sahagun, Louis (1994-10-11). "Elephants Pose Giant Dangers". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-03-14. 
  8. Parsons, Jim (2002-11-21). "Archived copy". 
  9. Strand, Patti (2012-01-09). "Congress Considers Ban on Performing Elephants". National Animal Interest Alliance. Retrieved 2013-07-08. 
  10. Man Is The Bastard – Thoughtless..., web page on (accessed on March 23, 2016)
  11. "Antiseptic Bloodbath". July 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-08. 
  12. "Tyke and the Elephant Angel". 
  13. "World's Most Amazing Videos: Tyke the Elephant Rampage". YouTube. 2017-03-28. 
  14. "Banned From TV 2 (1998)". YouTube. 2017-10-09. 
  15. "Maximum Exposure 01x03: Nasty, Nasty Critters". YouTube. 2016-11-29. 
  16. "86 Bullets - Music". 

External links

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