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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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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Connections

Featured in Bob's Burgers: Topsy (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

proof that humans suck
11 August 2000 | by (Columbus, Ohio) – See all my reviews

in response to the response posted earlier, i think a film like this is good evidence towards the theory that humans can be kinda dumb. yeah, the elephant killed some people, but that seems more a reaction to its situation of being captured and paraded around for slack-jawed coney-islanders. in a way, this film was the first edition of "when animals attack!" as it similarly shows the results of animals rebelling against their human captors. of course, this edison film just shows the electrocution, but the meaning is the same.

the film can be seen in its entirety in Mr. Death, as the previous guy posted, and also in a PBS documentary about the rise and fall of Coney Island.


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