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
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
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.
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.
For more information, visit www.hsus.org/current/biglie_bigtop.html
Go on to Diseases
That Kill the Elephants and...YOU!
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