They Kill Elephants Don't They?
Back in the early 1900s public execution of elephants was a sure crowd getter. People would come from miles around to see an elephant put to death.
The executions were put to elephants deemed no longer fitting to live among us, or a danger to live among us. I’m sure if the elephants could speak in their own defense they would say just the opposite, it was the humans that were dangerous to be around.
Several elephants who tromped to death their trainer or someone else who mistreated them were hung by the neck until dead, with the help of a crane.
One circus realized what a crowd getter elephant hanging had at least once had a spectacular elephant hanging and sold tickets and popcorn to hoards people to see such an event.
Even the hero of American inventors, Thomas Edison got in on the showmanship of executing an elephant. It was no secret that he often executed stray dogs and cats near his lab experimenting with creating an electric chair. It was time for something bigger.
Here is what Wikipedia said:
Topsy (born circa 1875, died January 4, 1903), was a domesticated elephant with the Forepaugh Circus at Coney Island's Luna Park. Because she had killed three men in as many years (including a severely abusive trainer who attempted to feed her a lit cigarette), Topsy was deemed a threat to people by her owners and killed by electrocution on January 4, 1903, at the age of 28. Inventor Thomas Edison captured the event on film. He would release it later that year under the title Electrocuting an Elephant.
A means of execution initially discussed was hanging. However, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals protested and other ways were considered. Edison then suggested electrocution with alternating current, which had been used for the execution of humans since 1890.
To reinforce the execution, Topsy was fed carrots laced with 460 grams of potassium cyanide before the deadly current from a 6,600-volt AC source was sent coursing through her body. She was dead in seconds. The event was witnessed by an estimated 1,500 people and Edison's film of the event was seen by audiences throughout the United States.
When Luna Park burned down, the fire was referred to as "Topsy's Revenge".
On July 20, 2003, a memorial for Topsy was erected at the Coney Island Museum.