20 Years After Elephant Tyke's Rampage and Death by Gunfire, Animal-Free Circuses Are Safe and Spectacular
For Immediate Release:
August 5, 2014
David Perle 202-483-7382
Honolulu, Hawaii – PETA sent a letter this morning calling on the Neal S. Blaisdell Center and its management to ensure that when the Moscow International Circus performs at the center in October, it features only willing human performers, not imported wildlife. The request comes just weeks before the 20th anniversary of the death of the elephant Tyke, who ran amok before a circus performance at the Blaisdell Center, stomping on and killing a trainer and injuring a groom and 12 spectators. Tyke was shot to death after police fired 86 shots into her. Witnesses required grief counseling after watching her suffer, bellowing and dying on the street.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—has also posted an action alert on its popular website asking visitors to write to the Blaisdell Center to point out that wild animals—including big cats, which the circus has said it intends to use—suffer greatly when they’re caged and chained, shipped around the world, separated from their loved ones and all that is natural and important to them, and beaten into performing circus tricks. Big-cat acts also pose a risk to the public—on average, captive big cats in the U.S. kill one person every year and injure 10 more.
“On that tragic day 20 years ago when Tyke killed her trainer out of rage and frustration and was gunned down by police, everyone should have learned that forcing wild animals to perform in circuses is cruel and dangerous,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA urges the Blaisdell Center to make sure that the Moscow International Circus’ performances are safe, family-friendly, and animal-free.”
I am writing to you to follow up and to urge you again to leave all wild animal acts out of the Moscow International Circus, which is scheduled to perform at the infamous Neal S. Blaisdell Center in October. While we understand that bears and elephants won’t be forced to perform, all wild animals used in circuses are deprived of everything that is natural and important to them—and pose a serious public safety risk.
The tiger attack on Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy is a stark reminder that, regardless of a handlers’ experience or “expertise,” wild animals remain unpredictable. On average, captive big cats in the United States kill one person every year and injure 10 more. Last November, the head keeper of a wild-cat facility in Oregon was killed by a big cat. In October, a worker at a roadside zoo in Oklahoma was mauled by a tiger and airlifted to a hospital, where she had to have her arm reattached. And in April, a woman came face to face with a tiger in a women’s bathroom after the animal escaped from trainers during a Shrine circus performance in Kansas.
Big cats do not naturally jump through rings of fire or balance on their hind legs. They are beaten into submission and are forced under the threat of punishment to perform these unnatural and confusing tricks. Whips, tight collars, muzzles, and sedation are often used to restrict the animals, and they are punched, kicked, whipped, and screamed at when “uncooperative.” When these intelligent, frustrated animals rebel against this abuse, they attack their trainers and sometimes lash out at bystanders.
The Moscow International Circus is well-recognized for its animal-free acts. Its human contortionists, gymnasts, and aerial acts could easily join the ranks of other highly admirable and lucrative animal-free circuses that are traveling the globe. Performing at the Blaisdell Center without animals would make a lasting impression, as a public display of respect for the fallen elephant Tyke and the tragedy surrounding that heartbreaking day 20 years ago. We would be thrilled to share the news of your decision to keep all wild animal acts out of your show. PETA’s members are awaiting an update.