Tyke running through the streets, minutes before being shot to death
SpeciesLoxodonta africana
Born1973 (1973)
DiedAugust 20, 1994(1994-08-20) (aged 20–21)
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Cause of deathGunshot wounds (shot 86 times)
OccupationCircus elephant
Known forRampaging through Kakaʻako, killing Allen Campbell and injuring 13 others

Tyke (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 killed her trainer, Allen Campbell, and seriously injured her groomer, Dallas Beckwith. Tyke then ran from the arena and through the streets of the Kakaʻako central business district for more than thirty minutes. Unable to calm the elephant, local police opened fire on the animal, which collapsed from the wounds and died. 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).


According to Tyrone Taylor, Tyke's responsible trainer at the time (interviewed in documentary film), Tyke had been involved in three incidents prior to the attack of August 1994.[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. 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.[3]

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."[3]


External video
video icon "Tyke the Elephant's Last Day on Earth" (contains graphic content)

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. 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 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg) elephant. Tyke finally collapsed from the numerous wounds and died.[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.[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]

See also


  1. ^ "Documentary: Tyke Elephant Outlaw (2015 Lambert, Moore)".
  2. ^ Valencia, Nanette. "The film TYKE ELEPHANT OUTLAW". American Film Institute.
  3. ^ a b "Factsheet: Hawthorn Corporation (John Cuneo)" (PDF). Peta.org. 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". WTAE, Team 4. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 2007-12-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  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 www.discogs.com (accessed on March 23, 2016)
  11. ^ "Antiseptic Bloodbath". Bandcamp.com. July 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
  12. ^ "Tyke and the Elephant Angel". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 2021-03-17.
  13. ^ "World's Most Amazing Videos: Tyke the Elephant Rampage". YouTube. 2017-03-28. Archived from the original on 2021-12-19.
  14. ^ "Banned From TV 2 (1998)". YouTube. 2017-10-09. Archived from the original on 2021-12-19.
  15. ^ "Maximum Exposure 01x03: Nasty, Nasty Critters". YouTube. 2016-11-29. Archived from the original on 2021-12-19.
  16. ^ "86 Bullets - Music". 86bullets.com. Retrieved 2021-03-17.