Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
5 December 1999 Issue

Don't Put Your Child on Someone Who's Wild
By [email protected]

As a result of the distressing environment in which circus animals are forced to live, many animals have been left with no other option but to revolt against those who have mistreated them so severely. Since 1990 alone, eighteen people have been killed and 89 others have been severely wounded by captive circus elephants. These numbers do not include those instances in which other species of circus animals have attacked unwitting humans, the majority of which were mere spectators. The fact of the matter is, no amount of training, however severe, can erase the instinctive, unpredictable ways of wild animals. This, coupled with the fact that they are tormented constantly, every day of their lives, these animals cannot be deemed safe for public exposure.

Some recent attacks committed by circus animals include:

1997, Carrollton, PA: During a performance in the Franzen Bros. Circus, a 400-pound Bengal tiger called "Lucca" killed his trainer, Wayne Franzen, by pouncing on him and dragging him around the ring by his neck. An audience of 200 children witnessed the slaying.

1996, Salt Lake City, UT: An elephant in the Jordan Circus attacked and injured two animal trainers while giving rides to children.

1996, Iquique, Chile: An elephant, named "Frida", attacked a 10-year-old boy who wandered up to the animal's cage at a circus. He died of multiple skull traumas.

1995 , Queens, NY: Several spectators were injured fleeing a matinee performance of the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus when two elephants, "Freda" and "Debbie," began to fight. The elephants broke out of the big top and moved into a parking lot where they smashed an empty car. "Freda" and "Debbie" were the same elephants who caused damages in Hanover, Pennsylvania on May 20, 1995. A spectator at this event said the trainer "was yelling and screaming at the elephants. They would turn around and then he would beat on them and they rebelled again." A circus employee said a bull hook was used by the trainer to gain control of the animals. One of the elephants suffered a six-inch gash under her right eye and cuts and bruises to other parts of her body. "Freda" was also blamed for the July 6, 1985 death of a woman in New London, Connecticut and may also have been the elephant who injured a man on May 25, 1983.

1994, Honolulu: A 21 year old African elephant, "Tyke," stomped her trainer to death, injured a dozen spectators, and broke out of a Circus International tent. She led police down several city blocks before a hail of gunfire killed her.

1994, Riley County, KN: A 3-year-old girl was injured when an elephant of the King Royal Circus wrapped his trunk around her neck and pulled her into the arena. The trainer of this specific elephant had been arrested two months prior to this incident for beating this same elephant during a performance.

1994, Chakradhapur, India: A tiger jumped out of the ring during a circus show and fatally mauled a 6-year-old boy sitting in the front row alongside his father. The boy died after he was rushed to a local hospital. His father was seriously injured.

1993, Fishkill, NY: A man was pinned against a trailer and crushed to death by an elephant in the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus.

1990, A chimpanzee in the American Continental Circus deserted his motorcycle act, charged the stands, and bit a child.

1989, Palm Bay, FL: An elephant, "Janet," charged out of the Great American Circus with a box full of children on her back. She injured 13 people, including a police officer, before she was killed.

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