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"Tyke" (1974August 20, 1994) was a female circus elephant who on August 20, 1994 in Honolulu, Hawaiimarker, killed her trainer, Allen Campbell, and gored her groomer Dallas Beckwith causing severe injuries during a Circus International performance before hundreds of horrified spectators at the Neal Blaisdell Centermarker. Tyke then bolted from the arena and ran through downtown streets of Kakaako for more than thirty minutes. Police fired 86 shots at Tyke who eventually collapsed from the wounds and died.

Video footage

Since she was performing at the time, the majority of Tyke's attack was caught on tape including the famous video image of the elephant attacking publicist Steve Hirano outside of the event. Video footage is available from PETA.

A history of problems

  • According to PETA this wasn't the first time Tyke had gotten loose and ran out of control. On April 21, 1993, 16 months before the incident in Hawaii, Tyke ripped through the front doors of the Jaffa Mosque during a performance and ran out of control for an hour in Altoona, Pennsylvaniamarker. An estimated 4,500 schoolchildren had to leave the building as it was evacuated, and the rampage caused more than $14,000 in damage.
  • In an affidavit obtained by the USDAmarker from a circus worker the next day on April 22, Tyke apparently had also attacked a tiger trainer while the circus was in Altoona, Pennsylvaniamarker.
  • It was also reported on July 23, 1993, that Tyke, "ran amok at the North Dakota State Fair in Minot, N.D.marker, trampling and injuring a handler and frightening the crowd as she ran uncontrolled for 25 minutes."


In the aftermath, Tyke became the poster elephant of circus tragedies and a symbol for animal rights. Dozens of lawsuits were filed against the city, the state, the circus and Tyke's owner, John Cuneo Jr. and his Hawthorn Corp. Honolulu trial lawyer William Fenton Sink successfully sued Cuneo on behalf of numerous plaintiffs, including young children, who suffered psychological injuries after witnessing Tyke's killing. The suits were settled out of court and the amounts were never made public. Based on Mr. Sink's work in the Tyke case, Animal Rights Hawaii renamed its prestigious Order of the Innocent award to The William Fenton Sink Award for Defense of Animals in honor of his work.

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