Dear Editor: The Ohio incident where exotic animals were released and police killed most of them brought to mind an incident in Wisconsin that happened over 10 years ago. A circus elephant escaped after it became spooked when a new trainer moved too fast in setting down a prop. Thankfully, this incident didn’t turn deadly like another notorious incident in Hawaii, where Tyke the elephant killed her trainer before hundreds of spectators and was shot 86 times by police before she died.
Given the realities of circus life for elephants — constant exposure to changing environments, bright lights, loud noises and being in crowds with children and with other animals — it is inconceivable that a healthy elephant would be so startled. It may mean that she is already under excessive stress, meaning that a flight reaction could be triggered easily, at any time, even while performing or giving rides.