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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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12 January 1903 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Electrocution of an Elephant  »

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1.33 : 1
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This may have been the first death ever captured on film. See more »

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

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User Reviews

A must-see for sadists and Edison groupies
11 June 2000 | by See all my reviews

I first heard of this film short in a horror movie textbook--and it was quite an appropriate place for it. This film is not likely to be exhibited to tourists at the Edison museum anytime soon. It documents a side of Edison that suggests that even the greatest of inventors can have sociopathic personality traits on par with a vivisector or serial killer. Another user seemed to be attempting to put the atrocity in context--but if the information was correct, that the elephant was abused by trainers-it only serves to compound the injustice here. This ranks with "Night and Fog" and the Ian Holm narrated "Animals at War" as one of the most shameful documents of human depravity recorded on film.

Dont feel bad if you cant find it at Blockbuster's.


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