It was 20 years ago that an elephant named Tyke – who could no longer take the abuse that she experienced in the circus – crushed her trainer and escaped from a Honolulu arena. A riveting new documentary titled Tyke Elephant Outlaw tells her story. This Australian film, produced and directed by award-winning documentary filmmakers Stefan Moore and Susan Lambert, who are based in Bondi Beach, examines the changes that have taken place since Tyke’s death and asks us to look forward as we remember the past.
The film was produced shortly before the recent admission by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus that the public no longer supports forcing elephants to perform. Around the world, governments are recognising the fundamental injustice of keeping animals in captivity just for some people’s fleeting diversion. The Australian Capital Territory, Mexico and El Salvador have banned wild-animal circuses, as have Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and others. And Los Angeles and Oakland, California, and Miami Beach, Florida, have enacted bans on the use of bullhooks, the pain-inflicting devices used to keep elephants submissive and fearful.
Recently, India banned captive-dolphin displays, and SeaWorld in the US is losing its shirt as the public stops attending its captive-orca shows. Numerous zoos in Canada, the US and the UK have closed their elephant displays and sent the animals to accredited sanctuaries. Costa Rica is in the process of shutting down its public zoos and turning them into parks.
Of course, even with all the progress that’s being made, we must never forget that Tyke died in a hail of bullets and that there are still circuses clinging to practices that are indefensible.
What You Can Do
Tyke Elephant Outlaw will add to the global groundswell of public opinion that’s turning against forcing intelligent social animals to perform. Visit the film’s website and Facebook page – then buy a ticket to see the film and encourage friends and family to do the same.
Melbourne International Film Festival
Wednesday, 5 August at 6.45PM
Saturday, 8 August at 1.45PM
Posted by Jason Baker