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Electrocuting an Elephant (1903)

The execution of Topsy, a female elephant, in a publicity stunt advertising the opening of Luna Park on Coney Island. Topsy was originally owned by Forepaugh Circus where she killed a ... See full summary »

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The execution of Topsy, a female elephant, in a publicity stunt advertising the opening of Luna Park on Coney Island. Topsy was originally owned by Forepaugh Circus where she killed a drunken spectator who burned the tip of her trunk with a cigar. She was sold to Sea Lion Park in 1902 which was then sold to new owners who turned it into Luna Park. After they decided they could no longer handle her, the owners of Luna Park announced they would hang Topsy, leading to an outcry by the ASPCA. The owners then decided they would electrocute the elephant, with a backup plan of feeding her cyanide-laced carrots and strangling her with a cable. Written by Rob O

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Documentary | Short

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Release Date:

12 January 1903 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Electrocution of an Elephant  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

The event was originally witnessed by an estimated 1,500 people. See more »

Connections

Featured in Snuff: A Documentary About Killing on Camera (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Not too beautiful
15 February 2005 | by See all my reviews

I saw this film recently and it was fairly disturbing. My previous reviewer has reacted a little violently to the anti-cruelty issue and for no good reason, this is a factual piece of documentary footage shot a long time before Cannibal Holocaust and should not bear any comparison. I'm pretty sure that given the conditions of Coney Island in those days, over packed, rowdy and boisterous, that the elephant was probably provoked. I believe it was fed a lit cigarette, so there you go. This is a fascinating piece however that reveals a time when it was not unusual to inflict such cruelty on animals for spectacle (diving horses and pig chutes).


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