A Storyville documentary: The story of Tyke, a circus elephant who went on a rampage in Honolulu in 1994, killed her trainer in front of spectators and died in a hail of gunfire.
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This programme contains scenes which some viewers may find upsetting
SLOW, TRIBAL DIRGE
Allen came into the barn and I said,
"Allen, the only thing I can really tell you is
"she shouldn't be doing this."
"And you need to be careful."
I even said to the owner, then, "She's not good for this."
You know, "She's not good for this".
I told Allen not to take Tyke on the road.
When he came to pick up that herd, I told him,
"You should leave Tyke behind."
MUSIC: Maile Lau Li'l Li'l by Kalama's Quartet
It was a beautiful day,
and I wanted to see the famous circus.
I was seven years old, and I was kind of excited because...
..a circus never really comes to Hawaii.
And so we were all excited, you know,
we just, like, couldn't wait for it to start.
MUSIC: Circus Music by The Hit
When we went to the circus,
my son told the usher that it was my birthday,
so she specially ushered us to the front seat.
And we had really good seats,
So we were, like, up front.
The next thing I remember is
I am crossing my fingers that the elephant show will start.
It was either a high wire or a trapeze act, before.
And, because I remember, I was watching and it ended
and there was some sort of announcement going on,
or it was... There was a fanfare or something,
and then there was a loud trumpet.
And Tyke was making noise.
And she wouldn't come out, she was just shaking herself.
And I saw this beige form moving around on the ground,
behind the curtain.
And then it came flying through the curtain,
followed by the elephant.
And I was watching it, I watched the elephant pick him up,
toss him back down, and roll him all the way out the curtain.
And I thought it was a dummy,
because it was very floppy, there was no angles to it,
like elbows or knees, or anything.
It was all just very fluid.
And then when he came out is when we realised, "Oh, my God!
"He's NOT playing with a doll.
"It's his trainer!"
LOUD DRUMS AND FANFARE
Oh, my goodness, oh, my...
And there was a guy.
He was in a blue, sort of...
His outfit, it was his circus outfit,
it was like a dark blue outfit,
and he's going, "Stop, stop, stop!"
And put his arms round the head of the elephant...
..and the elephant pushed him down.
And I saw the elephant go up,
and my daughter said, "You know what, Mum?
"I think it's time for us to leave."
I remember the announcement.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please remain in your seats, everything is under control."
And I thought to myself immediately, it clearly was not.
And then the elephant started running kind of, like, randomly around the arena,
so it's, "OK, this is getting out of control. What's going on?"
And the elephant started coming towards us.
Directly, straight towards where we were sitting,
and then we were standing already with our children in our arms,
we went down the stairs and went out.
All of a sudden, a woman yelled, a woman or a man,
"Get out, get out!"
And I was so confused, I didn't know what to do.
And I could hear somebody going, "He's right behind of us,
"he's right behind of us."
Next thing I know, we got hit down,
knocked on the ground, and then I hear this big boom.
And I look to the side, and there was the elephant.
She looked at the elephant Tyke and she said, she says, "Go away!"
She goes, "You leave my grandma alone! Go away!"
We came out,
and were standing about here, holding our two children,
and the elephant came banging through.
I noticed the thing was bent out, and the elephant was right there.
We took our children and ran this way,
and I turned back and saw the elephant.
It turned and went that way.
It will be OK. If there's anyone that needs a medical assistance,
please let us know at this time.
There was blood all over the floor, and it still didn't,
I think, hit me what had like really happened.
-POLICE RADIO: We need two ambulances right away.
Two people have been crushed, and I don't know...
-Two people crushed?
We've got people who are trampled by the elephant,
and people who are going to go into shock.
And then, before I knew it, I was in the arena in a stretcher.
MALE REPORTER: It started off as a day at the circus.
Then, before horrified spectators,
an elephant went wild, trampling its trainers
and escaping into the streets near the Blaisdell Arena.
One person was killed.
Police say nine people were injured,
at least three others were taken to local hospitals.
-Its handler was 37-year-old Allen Campbell,
who gave his life to save his young assistant.
MALE REPORTER: Police radios caught frantic yells of Honolulu patrolmen.
On the police scanner we hear, "Elephant on the loose in Kakaako,
"heading toward Queen Street."
we all stopped and looked at each other, thinking,
"Did we just hear elephant?"
So my photographer and I drove out this way,
and he dropped me off right here, on the corner of Ward and Queen.
So I was just coming down Ward Avenue,
and turned onto this street, and when I got onto this street
I saw the elephant coming down the road, here,
with the police officers behind.
I took my shoes off and I ran with my nylon stockings down that street,
looking for the elephant.
Came up to the corner and kind of looked, you know, "What's going on?"
I saw the elephant chasing a person around, in the lot there,
really, really agitated.
And the person was just running around, all around the car,
dancing around the car, and the elephant was moving fast,
the person was moving a little faster.
I remember glancing out my window and I see an elephant,
just going in circles and round and around.
I thought, something's wrong.
I see this gentleman try to close the wire gate on Tyke,
and she just knocks it out,
knocks it open like it's nothing.
Whoa, whoa! God!
And Tyke just goes after him. And it was clear that he was in danger.
I saw a police officer raise his pistol
and fires the first shot.
BURSTS OF GUNFIRE
REPORTER: Those were the first shots fired.
From there she made her way through the streets of Kakaako.
And then, I'm screaming, "No!"
DRIVING, EMOTIONAL MUSIC
And as we rounded the corner,
we saw just an army of SWAT team members
and police and fire trucks,
and we were told to stay back,
so we sat, basically, behind the police cars.
And we saw Tyke right there, sitting up.
She was sitting up,
and I just saw her trunk flailing back and forth
because she was swatting away the barrage of bullets coming her way.
TWO SHOTS FIRE
'We're told circus officials had tried to tranquillise the animal,
'but it just didn't work, and when the public's safety became an issue,
'the police did what they had to do.'
'OK, right now,
'we have a live report from our reporter at the scene.'
Dick, right now, they're preparing to shoot the elephant again.
They are behind us, behind the crowd.
What they are trying to do is clear the area
before they shoot the elephant.
The elephant is down.
Those are shots, I think.
Come over here, girl.
Oh, my God!
SOMBRE, EXPANSIVE SYNTHS
People were praying,
people were just silently sobbing.
I heard, I think, a child's voice here and there, "What's happening?"
'William Dallas Beckwith looked dead, as the angry elephant, Tyke,
'tossed his lifeless body from side to side.
'But he's very much on his feet, with only cuts and bruises,
'no broken bones, and no internal injuries.'
'Beckwith has been working for the Hawthorn Corporation,
'the elephant's owner, for about a month.
'He was Campbell's assistant.'
Tonight, the elephant's owner says
the animal has never been a problem before.
What made it go so out of control, kill its handler,
and trample people and property on city streets?
I have had elephants since 1954.
This is 1994, and have never, ever, once had an elephant go loose
or go after somebody in a building, or do anything...
in all those years.
Among today's claims, that there were previous incidents with Tyke,
and circus officials should have been aware of the potential dangers here.
In Minot, North Dakota, an elephant named Tyke
belonging to the Hawthorn group
again got out of control
and had to be contained.
Prior to that, in Altoona, Pennsylvania,
an elephant named Tyke broke loose from her chains,
ran around the arena until she was controlled.
'Animal Rights Hawaii wants the court and city officials to ban animal performances in the future.'
SLOW SYNTH DRONE
My first encounter with Tyke.
Walked into the barn,
Mr Cuneo was showing me the herd,
she turned, ears out, picked up a mouthful of hay,
or a trunk full of hay, and threw it at me.
And I said, "Uh-oh."
Oh, Mr Cuneo downplayed it.
"Oh, Ty. She does that with everyone, she's just getting to know you,
And I looked at that elephant, and I said, "Uh-oh."
This is me with Tyke and Jackie in Japan in '89.
And she was pretty fair-sized back then.
I'm 5'8". So right there she would have been over seven feet tall.
She knew her tricks,
and she did everything, you know,
she was a pretty versatile elephant.
She used to throw the balls, and catch batons,
and ring the bell,
and she used to ride a tricycle,
which she got too big for.
Tyke was one of the performers,
so she would only be brought over
to my side of the barn periodically.
But when she was brought over,
I couldn't even go in the room with my elephants,
because she'd charge me,
she'd have her ears out.
She was an unhappy camper.
I moved to Venice because of the connection with the circus.
I spent 30 years or so involved with Ringling Brothers,
so this was their winter home.
You know, we would spend ten months out on tour,
and then come down to here for three months,
and then start it all over again.
I mean, I can't go...
..anywhere without remembering something that went on,
back when I was 18, 19 years old.
I've been coming here since, you know, I was a kid.
I'm constantly walking in memories.
My mother asked me to take my siblings to the circus.
The circus was in town.
I knew nothing about circus, really, and what goes on.
So I took them to the show, and that was my first time.
ELABORATE CIRCUS MARCH
So, the last act to come on was the elephant act,
and that's what did it.
That's what did it.
It was the elephant act, the music was jamming,
and the elephants were moving.
And seeing Gunther Gebel Williams,
it was just one big party out there, and I wanted to be a part of it.
It was the magic of Gunther Gebel Williams,
it was just something about him
that made me say, you know, "I want to work with those animals".
Because of this gentleman, the way he handled the animals.
I wanted to be a part of his crew.
And I ran away with the circus that night.
Well, fast-forward 15 years,
I was the boss's right-hand man.
I was working with all the animals that he was working with.
My first job was with Hawthorn Corporation.
FLASHY FUNKY BEAT
I was a trainer for them.
I was in charge of trucking them around,
their safety, their welfare, their food.
Anything and everything about the herd was all on me.
-'Tyrone Taylor is living his dream,
'performing and travelling from city to city
'with his herd of elephants.
'He's one of only 100 elephant trainers in the country.'
Intelligence is important.
And the desire, I love this work.
This is not work to me, this is playing.
Mr Cuneo's elephants were known as bad elephants,
and bad meaning disposition.
He had some tough elephants.
And you had to be really firm with them, to get around them.
We had Tyke, Jackie, Hattie and Queen.
Tyke and Jackie were the Africans,
and Queen and Hattie were my two Asians.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Tyke was very...
At the point that I had taken over with her, she was...
I would say very, very gun shy.
She was instantly expecting...
..some type of discipline.
And I saw that in her.
I saw that, and I was reading it.
I had to read this elephant,
I had to rediscover everything about this elephant,
because no-one told me anything about her.
GLOOMY ORCHESTRAL PIECE
I was the compound manager
and I was also in charge of taking care
of the breeding bull that they had.
When the acts were in, they all were lined up
and chained in the barn...
..and other than getting practice,
they stayed chained up, 22 hours a day.
Not being able to wander around and visit and interact, and...
..do all the tactile stuff that elephants do so much of,
in their daily lives, with each other.
They just weren't able to be elephants at all,
they were little pets on a string that people wanted them to be.
I was one of the very few women that were working elephants at that time.
It was testosterone-fuelled,
it was guys, erm...
I can beat up a full-grown elephant.
It was just more the culture back then.
They would be beaten until the elephants were screaming,
until they gave up.
Whatever behaviour they were doing or not.
Come on, man, you can do better than that!
Sit! There you go.
Touch him, hurt him!
-Make him scream!
Tyke, she required a lot, lot more discipline,
because she was strong-willed, and she was...
She just fought tooth and nail to not have to do what she was doing,
and so she required a lot more...
"Tuning up" is what they used to call it -
than some of the others.
Just a lot of discipline, heavy-handed discipline.
A lot of spankings.
It was ugly. It was ugly.
Things have happened in our lifetime,
and she has kept those thoughts. I mean, she's a very smart elephant.
And she kept all of that with her and, being as large as she is,
if she was afraid of something, or something wasn't going her way,
she would actually just leave. She would step out.
That's what I mean, stepping off. Then she would leave.
'An African elephant named Tyke went wild before circus performers.
'The elephant burst through the doors of the Jaffa Mosque
'where the circus was performing, causing about 12,000 in damage.'
OK, we get there, and another trainer had came in,
to see if I needed any help.
It was the same organisation,
we were both from the Hawthorn Corporation.
And his groom, the trainer's groom,
was really agitating my elephant that day.
She wasn't having any of it, and she decided to go run around,
and run through doors.
The police were called out, I believe they were going to shoot her.
They wanted me to step away from her,
they were telling me to step away, and they had firearms out.
There was no way for her to get back in the building,
she's on a two-storey overhang.
What are we going to do? Well, my job is not to leave my animal.
I was not going to leave my animal.
I was going to get her back to where she needed to be,
and we did all right.
So, we got her back to the barn and taken care of,
and put her away and everything was good.
No-one was hurt.
But she did run, she did cause a spectacle and she did run,
and that's when she was known...
THEN I knew she was a runner.
I think the first time I heard of Tyke was in 1993.
Someone from the Humane Society in Altoona, Pennsylvania called us,
said an elephant had crashed out of an indoor arena,
knocked out some doors, wound up out on a loading dock,
and it took them a couple of hours to get her under control.
Luckily, it was a loading dock, and she couldn't step off.
If it had been a street out there, she would have been gone.
It would've happened in Altoona, instead of Hawaii.
And the person from the Humane Society
asked me what they should do.
And of course I said, "Don't ever let her perform again."
"She's an African, she did that once, she's going to do it again."
Africans just don't put up with what Asians put up with for so long.
That's what people don't know about elephants.
They're just dangerous.
And you have a false sense of security, somehow,
in a performing situation.
I mean, I know probably as much as anybody about how they act
and what they do...
..and they'll always surprise you,
and something that you don't expect could easily happen at any time.
..you know, I even said to the owner then, "She's not good for this."
You know, "She's not good for this."
But I was being dismissed as I don't know what I'm talking about.
"You just need to be firmer, you need to be heavier,
"you need to get her back in there, and this is how you do it."
And over at Hawthorn, they had a reputation for heavy-handed training,
a lot of the trainers were, like I say, old-school trainers.
They've been around,
they've come through the ranks because they had their families.
In this business it's passed down, generation to generation.
SLOW, SOMBRE AMERICANA
I'm born in the business.
My parents worked with animals,
my dad was in concessions,
my mum was an aerialist.
I knew in third grade I wanted to work elephants.
I wanted to make it my life.
MC: And here they come.
The biggest performers of them all...
The Walker Brothers Circus performing elephants!
I was taught how to use a bull hook, you know. It, er...
You cue with your right hand,
you carry the bull hook in your left hand.
You are cueing them by voice.
If there's a problem...
the elephant's getting lazy, you know, it doesn't...
instead of skipping, it's going to,
"Well, I feel like doing this today." You know.
And maybe you'll take the bull hook and shift it to your right hand,
and then they see you moving the bull hook, you know.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Not just me, you could take certain trainers that I grew up with
could go into Tyke and work her the same way I did.
There's just a certain discipline that you've got
and a certain way you work elephants, you know.
And then you have certain trainers that came in that,
like I said, I didn't know Allen, I didn't know this Tyrone,
I didn't know any of these guys.
I grew up with a certain era of trainers,
and then these guys came along, you know.
When I'm affectionate with my animal, my elephant,
it's all hands-on.
It's all love. It's all here, it's under the leg, it's behind the ear,
it's showing them all this love that they're going to get,
because they get that from each other through their touches,
so I had to be more hands-on and physical and physical.
And not just light touches, I'm giving hands,
I'm letting 'em know you're elephant, I'm elephant.
"Oh, it's good. Good." Even through my tone of voice. "It's good."
A lot of my work is done from over here.
I don't have to come across unless I really need to catch an ear.
Remember, that's elephant. That's ten foot tall.
How am I going to get her head down?
Put it to the top, head down. And then she'll bring the head down.
If I have this and I just want them to move,
and I don't want to bring the hook out, then, I can say,
"Move. Move. Move.
"Move back, move back.
STERNLY: "Come in line. Come in line." Voice changes.
"Come in line. All right, come in line."
"All right, move up tail! Move up tail!"
And then we move out.
So everything is changed because now we become elephant, and we step hard.
Because elephants, even though they step light, they're stepping hard.
Elephants are big, and they can be very dangerous,
and the theory back then was, well, as long as they are afraid of you,
they are not going to do anything.
But, if you happen to have an elephant that was strong-willed,
They were the ones that were going to give you trouble.
Because they thought about it, and they looked at you and went,
"You know, you're full of it! I don't have to do what you say.
"I'm 10,000lbs, you're not.
"That little stick is not going to help you any."
And elephants are methodical.
Asian elephants will wait for years to kill you if they are so inclined.
They hold a grudge.
They have long memories.
African elephants, too, I mean, they're very bright,
they're very intelligent, and they will remember you, for ever.
Whether it's good or bad.
And you better hope that they are thinking good thoughts
if you're having to go in with them again.
'I went through several grooms that Mr Cuneo gave me,
'but I knew I needed only one. THEY CHUCKLE
My groom was Warren Wilkinson,
and he was...
He's a gentleman that I have known since he was like nine years old.
I told you I ain't changed, bro. Told you I ain't changed.
'I trust Tyrone with my life. I have known him my whole life.'
At Hawthorn, first thing he did was he brought me over
and let me see the elephants.
He explained to me a little bit about them,
kinda gave me, you know, the rundown,
that they were different than the animals
I was used to working with.
That they were a lot more aggressive.
POMPOUS FAIRGROUND MARCH
Minot, North Dakota. And it was an outside date.
That means our ring was set up on the outside, we were at a fairground.
Mr Cuneo had sent down another groom for me,
he says, "You need a... You need another groom."
And I said, "I don't, I have Warren, I have my groom, Warren, now,"
and I didn't need another groom,
He was persistent on working with Tyke.
No-one works with Tyke but me,
and I don't need anyone messing with Tyke
or doing anything, getting her attention,
and this gentleman proceeded to keep calling her name.
And I told the gentleman, "Don't say anything.
"Just stand there, don't say a word."
But he was persistent on just calling her name, letting it be known,
"I know that elephant.
"I know how to handle Tyke.
"I know what to do with Tyke."
Everyone that came from that organisation thought they knew what to do with Tyke.
It was the wrong thing to do.
And that particular time,
she waited until the right time,
and she went after the guy.
I just heard Ty calling Tyke's name.
I turned around and that's when I've seen Tyke attacking Mike Pursley.
She turned, and knocked him into a portable dumpster.
We had a portable trash container.
And she pinned him up against that container,
and used her trunk to grind him into that container,
and used her trunk to knock him down,
and go on him, used the base of the trunk,
and had her trunk wrapped around one ankle and kept pulling him back.
She kicked him, and would pull him back to her.
Kick him, pull him back to her.
She did that probably about three or four times.
She was trying to kill him, so I had to get her off...
..and what I did was I stuck my bull hook into her ear.
That's all I had, there was no time to wail and flail.
And that's when she took off from Ty,
and we were on a 20-minute chase
through Minot State fairground for her.
Ty had Queen.
He yelled for me to grab a chain,
I grabbed the chain out from underneath the truck,
put it around my neck, and we took off running.
She was trapped between some buildings, you know, wreaking havoc,
and I had to go in.
No-one but me.
He passed Queenie off to me, he started going toward the workshop.
And I just called her...
..real stern, got her attention the same way I always have,
no discipline, and opened up, and I knew I had to sacrifice myself.
I had to just show her.
No hook in hand. The hook was over here, but no hook in hand.
And she turned, ears flared out...
I just started thinking, "Bad."
I'm like, "Now I'm going to have to leave this elephant unattended,
"if he needs help."
To my surprise, she just walked right up to him.
She ran up to me like a big dog and just towered above me
and let me give her all of this love and hugs,
and inside, I am SCARED.
I am just... Heart beating because she just tried to kill someone.
..to, I think, both our surprises, she didn't give us any problems.
She literally walked back to the picket line,
and we chained them both up.
That was the last time,
in July... July '93 was the last time I used her in a performance.
And I still had to go...
My contract ran through September, October.
But I wouldn't use her.
I used just the three, and despite Mr Cuneo and us battling,
I told him, "This elephant's going to kill someone."
I just felt like she should be in a sanctuary, a zoo,
or some type of establishment that's just going to let her be an elephant.
MUSIC: Maile Lau Li'l Li'l by Kalama's Quartet
SEA BIRDS CAW
ELEPHANT TRUMPETS QUIETLY
Two days before I left Hawthorn,
Allen came into the barn
and I was working in there with the elephants,
and he was like, "Oh, if you work my Africans the way you work these,
"they'll be great."
I said, "Allen, I'm not going to be here."
He was like, "You'll be here." I said, "No, dude.
"I gotta go to Florida, I'm meeting up with Tyrone, we're doing Ringling."
I said, "The only thing I can really tell you is...
"she shouldn't be doing this.
"And you need to be careful."
And his last words to me before he walked out the barn was,
"Well, if she gets out of line,
"my Africans will get her back in line."
I said, "All right, I wish you the best, man."
And the last I heard about Allen was when I seen it on the news.
I told Allen not to take Tyke on the road
when he came to pick up that herd.
I told him, "You should leave Tyke behind."
Typical macho reaction. "Oh, no, I can handle it.
"I can get a handle on her."
Because he had the option. She could have stayed,
I could have put her in the bull barn...
..and she would have been fine, but that wasn't an option,
and the Hawthorn Corporation did not offer that as an option
to Allen, it was all or nothing,
because typically the bookings that the Hawthorn Corporation made
were for an act of so many elephants,
and if you didn't have that many elephants,
that contract wasn't going to be upheld.
And to Cuneo, they were there to make him money.
You know, and to me, money's not worth a life.
There's no amount of money that can repay a life.
So I think he should have been done had her off the road,
away from that.
But, you know, greed makes people do stupid things.
MC: Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated. Please remain seated.
-Oh, my gosh!
Oh, my gosh! That's...
Oh, my gosh.
Oh, my gosh.
'Allen wasn't ever the focus. Allen was the by-product,
'he was the by-catch, he was collateral damage.'
She wanted to get rid of that groom.
Allen was trying to stop her.
She said, "You know, this isn't your fight.
"But if you're going to insist on it, I'm going to...
.."make sure you get out of my way
"so I can finish doing what I was doing."
CYMBALS AND SCREAMS
And then she stands, she's looking,
she's got her ears up.
I'm sure she's listening to the other elephants
that I'm sure are yelling in the background.
Even if you can't hear it on tape,
there's no doubt she's listening to the other elephants,
and she's trying to decide what she's going to do,
and then that guy moves, and it's just a hair that he moves,
but it's enough to bring her attention back to him.
SCREAMS AND CHILDREN CRYING
She didn't have a plan.
It's not like, "Well, I'm going to catch the bus,"
or "I've got a waiting car for me that's going to speed me off,
"and we're going to live on the lam in Mexico," or anything.
The natural flight response triggered in her,
she knew she had to get out, and she wanted to get away from it all.
She wanted to get away from the noise,
the huge amounts of adrenaline
that were flowing everywhere, by that time, in the arena.
She knew she was in really big trouble,
and she knew she would have been chained up,
she would have been beaten a lot, and she said,
-"I'm going to get out of Dodge",
and took off.
MUSIC: Sanctus from Missa Luba by Guido Haazen
# Dominus Deus Sabaoth
# Dominus Deus
# Deus Sabaoth
# Sanctus. #
She was shot 87 times.
She was shot all over her body, in her eyes,
and I remembered that huge head,
just leaning against the car.
It was heartbreaking to see such a majestic creature,
such a beautiful, huge, gorgeous elephant,
lying in the street of Honolulu.
Lying... Just lying on the street of Honolulu,
with that ridiculous pink party hat on.
NEWSREADER: 'A family placed leis right near the spot where
'Tyke fell to her death.
'Animal rights groups had a memorial service for Tyke
'right where the female African elephant was shot down.'
'Supporters of Animal Rights Hawaii returned to the site
'where circus elephant Tyke was gunned down.
'The president of the group says the elephant is not to
'blame for the tragedy - she blames what she says
'is the inhumane treatment most circus animals receive.'
They're shackled often 22 out of 24 hours,
are routinely deprived of food and water,
made to wear stupid costumes,
and this is considered wholesome family fun?
In the days following her death, we worked very quickly
and rescheduled our demonstrations.
We could see that this had really made a difference.
So we decided that we would go forward
and try to make sure that this could not happen again.
NEWSREADER: 'Animal rights groups nationwide are speaking out
'about the circus incident.
'Acting mayor Jeremy Harris today said he is thinking
'about banning any circuses featuring animal acts from city facilities.'
The Tyke incident was an international incident.
This was going to affect circuses worldwide,
this was going to have an impact, we thought, from the beginning -
not only on the smaller city councils in the United States,
but all across the world, for that matter.
Don't blame the circus!
I helped organise counterdemonstrations
against animal activist groups.
Initially, we did have to pay various individuals to come out
because we needed to have groups of people that would at least be
able to get the attention of the public, to show that there were
individuals that were supporting the circus.
The animal rights activists, just ignore them, have a great time.
And you can take it and throw it right in the garbage where it belongs!
Have a good time.
I met the vice president of Ringling Brothers,
and he said, "Steve, we're going to need you to go over to Hawaii
"right away to deal with the fallout
"from this particular accident, and at the same time, too,
"deal immediately with the City Council",
considering the fact that the animal activist groups
wanted to ban use of animals as entertainment
immediately after this incident happened.
Chairman Felix, members of the committee.
The animals most commonly used in circuses
and other travelling animal acts are wild and can behave instinctively
and unpredictably. If they become out of control, they are further
punished up to and including death, as we experienced with Tyke.
Prior to this event, our animal-related position
had been that animals that are used in entertainment,
or, whether they be domestic or wild animals
that are used in entertainment, they should be treated humanely.
That was our position.
And after the Tyke incident and re-looking at our position statement,
we really came to the conclusion that you couldn't
treat a wild animal humanely in the entertainment business.
The circus industry will tell you that they are
"repositories of endangered species".
USDA inspection records of John Cuneo's elephants
show a dearth of even the most basic husbandry records.
They will boast that their animals perform because they "like to".
'I remember them as if it were yesterday.'
Cathy Goeggel, the ringleader, I'd say, of Animal Rights Hawaii,
was a nasty individual.
She was not someone you could talk with, or reason with.
She had a one-track mind and that was to lash out against anybody
that was opposed to their point of view.
It was outrageous.
The industry, the circus industry employs people to say that
everything is wonderful, everything is great.
The elephants LOVE doing what they're doing
and it's like the emperor has no clothes.
These animals are all trained through positive reinforcement.
There's a lot of misconceptions on how you get an animal
to perform a certain act.
When an elephant stands on its hind legs,
this is something it does naturally in the wild.
They reach branches off trees, they also sit on their hind legs
when they are engaging in the act of sex.
The facts remain that the animals don't do anything other
than what they do in the wild and this is incorporated into the acts.
Well...I would say that it involved a lot of money
and it's a business and the argument that, well,
it only happened one time, might have prevailed.
But on the other hand,
we've never had another elephant come into this community.
So, bill or no bill, legislation or no legislation, the outcome was
and has been that there has been no elephant coming back.
We have not had live circuses with wild animals allowed here.
We agreed to take Nicholas and Gypsy,
the two last elephants that were at the Hawthorn Corporation's place
in Illinois, the same place where Tyke came from.
'If you guys want take off, you can go ahead now.'
Sometimes elephants come in, they don't know even that you can eat the grass,
that that's even an option, because a lot of elephants in captivity
have never been able to walk on grass.
This is Nicholas, and behind me is Gypsy.
Former circus elephants from Hawthorn Corporation.
Her whole life is different, you know.
If she wants to go in the lake, she can go in the lake.
If she wants to scratch on a tree, she can scratch on a tree.
If she wants to dig her own mud hole, she can dig her own mud hole and roll in it.
Tyke could have been right next to her.
Tyke should have never been in the circus.
Ty and Tyke, they had some kind of special connection.
We used to walk in that barn in the morning,
and he would walk up to that elephant
and be like, "Africa!"
She would lift her head up and rumble
and it was just... Just watching it, I could see the connection.
I loved that elephant.
There's something about her that I connected with.
I liked the way she showed me her affection, she'd stand above me
and I'm 6'3 and this elephant's standing
and I'm looking up at the top, underneath her chin,
when she's stood above me and she let me hug her neck
and hug her and she just let me be around her.
So that's what I loved most about her, she let me be around her.
There's nothing better than being hugged by an elephant.
It's just the most wonderful, warm... When they take their trunk
and blow against your face and they wrap their trunk around you, it's fabulous. Wonderful.
But those days are gone.
If I could have worked elephants without all the brutality,
oh, that would have been fabulous. Absolutely fabulous.
And when I look back,
I said I'm sure there's a special place in hell for me
for what I did to the elephants, because that was what
I was told I had to do to stay alive, to keep those elephants in line.
But now I know that was all nonsense.
I'm probably the most critical person of all of our place here.
Because I don't drive through here and think,
"Oh, how nice it is that they are eating grass".
I drive through and think, "Why are they behind a fence?"
You know, our philosophy is that elephants are not
designed for captivity at all.
And you can do what you can for them,
but you'll never match what they should have
if they were in the wild.
People say, "What do you think went wrong? What went wrong?
"Why did Tyke do such an unnatural thing?"
That's the first natural thing that Tyke did in her life, was to run.
She did it in Altoona, she injured people in North Dakota
and finally in Hawaii, she acted like a real elephant and said,
"I'm not supposed to be here. I'm tired,"
and on that final day of her life,
exhibited real elephant behaviour,
and it didn't fit the streets of Hawaii.
The gripping and emotionally-charged story of Tyke, a circus elephant who went on a rampage in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1994, killed her trainer in front of thousands of spectators and died in a hail of gunfire.
Her break for freedom - filmed from start to tragic end - traumatised a city and ignited a global battle over the use of animals in the entertainment industry. Looking at what made Tyke snap, the film goes back to meet the people who knew her and were affected by her death - former trainers and handlers, circus industry insiders, witnesses to her rampage, and animal rights activists for whom Tyke became a global rallying cry.
Tyke is the central protagonist in this tragic but redemptive tale that combines trauma, outrage, insight and compassion. This moving documentary raises fundamental questions about our deep and mysterious connection to other species.