Mention “Tyke the Elephant” to anyone who lived in Honolulu 27 years ago and chances are they’ll shake their head and talk about what a dark moment it was in their city’s history.
Tyke, a 20-year-old female African Elephant, was in Honolulu with Circus International. On August 20, 1994, during the show, Tyke entered the ring at the Blaisdell Arena, kicking around what looked to audience members like a dummy. “We thought it was part of the show,” one witness told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. They soon realized the supposed dummy was a severely injured groomer. Panicked, audience members fled for the exits. Tyke went on to fatally crush her trainer, who was trying to intervene, before fleeing the arena herself.
For nearly 30 minutes, Tyke ran through the streets of the Kakaako neighborhood’s business district at rush hour, nearly trampling circus promoter Steve Hirano when he tried to fence her in. It was a foot chase between her and the Honolulu police, who eventually shot her 86 times before she succumbed to nerve damage and brain haemorrhages. People watched aghast from their cars, apartments and the sidewalk.
Twenty seven years later, witnesses still remember it vividly, and the attitude in Honolulu toward animal-driven circuses is distrusting. No circus elephants have performed since Tyke, even though there is no prohibition against it.
In 2014, when the Moscow International Circus announced that it would perform in Honolulu with “wild animals”, activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals circulated a petition against it. A circus spokesman recently told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that animals would be excluded from the shows, and PETA applauded the decision in a press release:
While the Tyke incident challenged people around the world to think about our relationship to circus animals, many circuses such as the Kelly Miller Circus, UniverSoul Circus, Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars and Carson & Barnes still use exotic animals, including Elephants, in their shows today. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has only recently stopped using Elephants in their circus.
What can you do? PETA encourages you to avoid supporting any circus that includes animals and provides a list of animal-free circuses, as well as a list of things you can do if the circus comes to your town.
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3 thoughts on “The Tragic Story Of Tyke The Circus Elephant: The Most Horrific Circus Death Ever!”
Just so very very sad . Why can’t people realise , it’s time to stop animal abuse . . For good . . I can’t bear it , it’s so very upsetting that these people still wont listen
The frustration she must have felt after years of being forced to perform, added to her years of confinement all came to a head and no one in that circus cared enough for her to read the signs she must have been giving. I think she knew her only way out was death, so she did the only thing she thought of and that ended her torment in a hail of small arm fire. I cried for her over and over 🥵😡🤬 if only I could have done something to help her in her time of need 😥🥰😪
I find it disgraceful and heartbreaking that wild animals are still made to perform in circuses.
Nobody has the right to to dictate to any animal what they should and shouldn’t do.
Hopefully in the not too distant future all animals will be banned from performing in circuses.
R.I.P beautiful Tyke, you’re free from your suffering and pain 💔🐘 xx.