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Tyke Elephant Outlaw: The Story of a Circus Elephant's Rebellion

This film is a heartbreaking documentary that exposes the dark side of the animal entertainment industry.

Keywords: *, Tyke, circus, elephant, animal rights, animal abuse, entertainment industry, Summarised in Three Words: Gripping, Heartbreaking, Enlightening.


"Tyke Elephant Outlaw" is a poignant and thought-provoking documentary directed by Susan Lambert and Stefan Moore, and released in 2015. The film dives into the controversial world of animals in the entertainment industry, unravelling the tragic story of Tyke, a circus elephant who shocked the world in 1994 by violently rebelling against her trainers. In today's world, where animal rights are a topic of constant debate, this documentary holds a significant relevance, shedding light on the dark side of animal performance.


In 1994, during a circus performance in Honolulu, Tyke, a captive elephant, went on a rampage, resulting in the death of her trainer and her own untimely demise in a hail of gunfire. This devastating incident sparked a worldwide debate on the ethical treatment of animals in entertainment.

More Film Analysis



"Tyke Elephant Outlaw" is an investigative documentary that delves deeply into the circumstances leading up to the tragic event. The film is meticulously researched and presents a detailed account of Tyke's life, uncovering the harsh realities and abuses faced by animals in circuses.

Historical and Factual Context


Tyke's story is not an isolated incident but reflects a broader issue of animal abuse in circuses. Many animals, like Tyke, suffer in silence behind the glittering facade of the entertainment industry.

Key themes in the film

  • The need for animal rights and ethical treatment
  • The dark side of the animal entertainment industry
  • The emotional and psychological impact of captivity on animals

Film Comparisons

While there are other documentaries that tackle animal rights, "Tyke Elephant Outlaw" stands unique in its focus on circus animals, specifically elephants, and the personal narrative of Tyke.

Noteworthy Moments

One of the most profound moments in the documentary is the footage of Tyke's rampage, a heartbreaking and shocking reminder of the consequences of animal abuse.


The documentary has been widely appreciated for its candid portrayal of animal abuse in the entertainment industry. As quoted in The Guardian, "It's a film that will make you rethink your stance on animal performances."


"Tyke Elephant Outlaw" is a must-watch for anyone interested in animal rights and the ethical treatment of animals in entertainment. It's a heartbreaking, enlightening and ultimately essential documentary that exposes the dark reality behind the glittering circus tents.

More film information:


  • IMDB Score: 7.3/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
  • Metacritic Score: 72
  • Awards: Nominated for Best Documentary at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards, 2016.



  • Tyke the Elephant: The protagonist of the documentary, whose tragic story unfolds the harsh realities of circus life.
  • Circus Trainer: Whose life was tragically ended by Tyke during her rampage.



  • Honolulu: The place where the tragic incident took place.
  • Circus Tent: The primary location of Tyke's life and the place of her rebellion.

Key Questions Raised by the Film

  1. How can we ensure the ethical treatment of animals in the entertainment industry?
  2. What are the psychological impacts of captivity on animals?
    Answers to Questions:

I wonder what the film would be in another art form

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  1. A famous book, it would be "Black Beauty" by Anna Sewell – both explore the abuse and mistreatment of animals.
  2. A famous song, it would be Michael Jackson's "Earth Song" – the song and the film both highlight the need for change in our treatment of the natural world.
  3. A famous piece of art, it would be "Guernica" by Picasso – both depict the horrors and suffering caused by violence.
  4. A famous celebrity, it would be Jane Goodall for her advocacy for animal rights.
  5. A colour, it would be grey, symbolising the gloomy and tragic life of Tyke.
  6. A music style, it would be blues for its melancholic and sorrowful themes that mirror Tyke's life.