Topsy (elephant)

Topsy (elephant)

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), [cite episode | title = Series E, Episode 2 | series = QI | airdate = 2007-09-21 | season = E | number = 2 ] Topsy was deemed a threat to people by her owners and killed by electrocution on January 4, 1903. [ "Bad elephant killed. Topsy meets quick and painless death at Coney Island," The Commercial Advertiser, New York, Jan. 5, 1903. retrieved Oct. 27, 2006] ] 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.

On July 20, 2003, a memorial for Topsy was erected at the Coney Island Museum.

Usage in popular works of art


Portions of Edison's film "Electrocuting an Elephant" have appeared in many works of art such as:

* The 1979 movie "Mr. Mike's Mondo Video"
* Nine Inch Nails' 1997 Closure VHS set.
* A 1999 documentary about Fred A. Leuchter.
* The 2000 movie "Hamlet".
* The 2006 movie "Land of the Blind".

Other Media

A song called "Coney Island Funeral" recorded by the history band Pinataland for their EP "Songs from Konijn Kok" tells the tale of Topsy.

ee also

* List of historical elephants
* Mary (elephant)
* War of Currents
* Thomas Edison
* Chunee
* Tyke (elephant)
* Shooting an Elephant


External links

* [ Fiction: "Topsy the Elephant"] published by The LA Weekly
* [ The Coney Island Museum, Brooklyn, NY]
* [ "When Animals Resist their Exploitation"] by Jason Hribal
* [ Topsy, Electrocuted by Edison]
* [ New York honours electrocuted elephant] by BBC News

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Topsy — *Topsy, a character in Harriet Beecher Stowe s novel Uncle Tom s Cabin (source of the phrase growed like Topsy ). *Topsy and Tim, a character from the Topsy and Tim series of children s books. *Topsy, a codename for the Japanese passenger… …   Wikipedia

  • Topsy (Elefant) — Topsy am 4. Januar 1903 auf dem von der Edison Manufacturing Co. produzierten Film Electrocuting an Elephant. Der Film wurde von Jacob Blair Smith oder Edwin S. Porter erstellt.[1][2] Topsy (* um 1867, † 4. Januar …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Topsy — est une éléphante apprivoisée qui a été exécutée par électrocution le 4 janvier 1903. Sommaire 1 Vie 2 Mort 3 Littérature 4 Références …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Topsy — Electrocuting an Elephant, Thomas Alva Edison, 1903. Topsy (c. 1875 – 4 de enero de 1903) fue una elefanta de circo que murió electrocutada en la silla eléctrica. Contenido 1 Vida 2 Muerte …   Wikipedia Español

  • Mary (elephant) — The hanging of Mary Mary was a five ton Asian elephant who performed in the Sparks World Famous Shows circus. Her death is sometimes interpreted as a cautionary tale of circus animal abuse during the early twentieth century. Contents …   Wikipedia

  • Electrocuting an Elephant — (Électrocuter un Éléphant) est un court métrage muet de Thomas Edison, sorti en 1903, durant 23 secondes. Description Article détaillé : Topsy. Ce film représente l exécution par électrocution de l éléphante Topsy, organisée et filmée par l… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Electrocuting an Elephant — Filmdaten Originaltitel Electrocuting an Elephant Produktionsland USA …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Shooting an Elephant — is an essay by George Orwell, written during the autumn of 1936. Orwell tells of shooting an elephant in British controlled Burma as an Imperial Policeman in 1926.Publication historyOrwell first published the essay in New Writing First series No …   Wikipedia

  • The Elephant Show — (from the second season onward, Sharon, Lois Bram s Elephant Show ) was a Canadian children s television show from 1984 until 1988. The show premiered on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and TVOntario. The Elephant Show featured the… …   Wikipedia

  • Tyke (elephant) — Tyke (1974 – August 20, 1994)[1] was a female circus elephant who on August 20, 1994, in Honolulu, Hawaii, killed her trainer, Allen Campbell, and gored her groomer Dallas Beckwith causing severe injuries during a Circus International performance …   Wikipedia

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