Topsy the Elephant gained notoriety in America as part of the Forepaugh Circus when she killed a spectator in 1902 and was subsequently sold off to Luna Park. In most cases, Edison had no personal role in the formation or direction of these companies. While there, the elephant, which was turned into a circus animal, was involved in several incidents, one of which killed a spectator. The answer is an emphatic “no.” Topsy was sentenced to death by Luna Park officials after she had killed three men over a three-month period.  That she had, under the goading of her drunken handler, menaced the local police and some workmen likely also influenced amusement park officials in their decision to rid themselves of the elephant. Topsy’s true crime, if indeed it was an offence, is to be an elephant. Edison has therefore been accused of torturing Topsy in order to satisfy his ego and further his commercial interests. Some people believe that Topsy's execution using electric shock was carried out to prove the competition's greatness between the two great inventors, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. It is arguably the most famous animal execution ever—the killing of Topsy the elephant at Luna Park on Coney Island in January 1903. Topsy was originally owned by Forepaugh Circus where she killed a drunken spectator who burned the tip of her trunk with a cigar. It is sometimes said that Edison had the film made to further dramatize the dangers of the alternating current system.  It was, according to this canard, all part of the longstanding publicity campaign to discredit AC and promote Edison’s own preference, direct current. Historical accounts of Topsy’s errant behaviour A Tale of Two Islands: Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Just how many people came out to witness Topsy’s execution is a matter of dispute. The precautions were unnecessary, as Topsy was killed nearly instantly. Edison then began to carry out propaganda that discredited Tesla’s findings. Summaries The execution of Topsy, a female elephant, in a publicity stunt advertising the opening of Luna Park on Coney Island. It is worth noting that none of Edison’s extant correspondence from the period mentions Topsy or the electrocution of an elephant at Coney Island or in any other way links Edison to the execution.  And none directs Gilmore or the Edison Manufacturing Co. to make a film of the event. Brooklyn, New York. The Daily Beast's Michael Daly's new book Topsy explores the life of the ill-fated elephant, who was put to death for being a "serial man-killer." He said he would never do it no matter how much money he offered. This is the tragic story of Topsy, which also dragged the names of two of the world's great inventors, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. The film was released and watched on the kinetoscope under the title " Electrocuting an Elephant. " It angered Blount, so he allegedly stuck a lit cigar into Topsy’s trunk. He said that Westinghouse would kill their customers within six months of having the system installed in their homes. To be more precise, it’s to be guilty of being a wild-caught elephant held She, in turn, killed him. And in 1902, Topsy the Elephant made national news when she killed a spectator at Forepaugh’s circus. The 10-foot elephant was supposed to hang Topsy in the park, but a community organization for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals objected and said the manner of execution was cruel. But because Topsy has a bad reputation as a dangerous elephant, no zoo or show will buy it. Topsy was about 35 years old at the time of her death, which is about half the expected life span for an elephant with a decent life in the wild. Myth Buster-Topsy the Elephant Did Edison really electrocute Topsy the Elephant?  Elena Holodny, writing in Business Insider, chimed in, too, noting that Edison “sought to prove that alternating current actually can kill quickly.” Holodny then goes on to say that “at a demonstration [Edison] held at Coney Island, he electrocuted and killed a circus elephant named Topsy.” Countless other websites have followed suit, making the same claim against Edison, likely because the film made of this singular event was given the title “Electrocuting an Elephant—Thomas A. Edison.”. Topsy (circa 1875-January 4, 1903), was a circus elephant killed by electrocution on January 4, 1903. Her dangerous nature was none other than the result of training and the cruel treatment she often received over the years. Topsy's feet were then placed in a conductive copper sandal so that she could easily be electrocuted. Edison’s cameraman filmed the entire scene, and the motion picture, titled Electrocuting an Elephant, was released later in 1903. The execution took place on a dreary Jan. 4.  Topsy was dosed with poison, and a rope was put around her neck. Since no one had electrocuted an elephant before, they decided to do so, with a combination of execution of poisoning, strangulation, and finally, electric shock. But the film could have borne no relation to this so-called “Battle of the Currents,” which had ended more than a decade earlier. Namely, the elephant killed three people in the last three years, including her abusive coach who allegedly tried to give her a lit cigarette to … Topsy was originally owned by Forepaugh Circus where she killed a drunken spectator who burned the tip of her trunk with a cigar. It is tempting to grant the title of the world’s most intriguing animal to one of the great apes. Because she had killed Unaware that the elephant was terrified of the glaring stage lights, deafening crowd noise, and constant beatings, Phil Wingren, who brought his family to the circus, remarked that Topsy must relish being a star. The silent black and white documentary was also the first animal death to be filmed in history. She was sold to Sea Lion Park in 1902 which was then sold to …  To meet these objections, park officials, with the approval of the SPCA, subsequently decided to use a combination of poisoning, strangulation, and electrocution. Her life represents the treatment of animals exploited by the entertainment industry and symbolises America’s industrial empire. Start by marking “Topsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P.T. Edison then began to question the safety of using an AC system. The industrial giant, George Westinghouse, was also supported this discovery, which was then immediately used widely. A terrifying film made the event infamous, leading to confusion over whether this was part of the epic battle between Thomas Edison and Nicola … Edison's experience in this matter then prompted Thompson and Dundy to contact him. The question of The owner of Luna Park then turned to the latest electric current invention at that time. No, the owners of the Coney Island Luna Park, messers Frederick Thompson, and Elmer Dundy Did. TOPSY THE CIRCUS ELEPHANT (PART 3) The opening pages of the Adam Forepaugh Route Book for 1889, featuring Adam Sr. (right) and son Addie (left). The fire also destroyed Lorenzo Shaw’s Channel Chute, a wooden roller coaster built in 1895 that encircled the hotel and was often called the Elephant Scenic Railway. Luna Park management initially planned to hang Topsy.  But the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals objected, claiming that this method of execution was unnecessarily cruel. About 10 minutes later, Topsy fell to the ground and died. TOPSY THE CIRCUS ELEPHANT (PART 2) In 1883, as part of his ongoing rivalry with Adam Forepaugh, P.T. However many spectators there were, Edison was not among them. Because she killed … An illustration of Topsy, a female Asian elephant killed at a Coney Island, New York park by electrocution on January 4, 1903. Chuny travelled to England from Kolkata on board an East India Company ship in 1811, and, after a brief stint … They get information about alternating electric shocks and decide that electric shock execution will be a more humane method of killing Topsy. A favorite was Topsy, a three-ton tusker whose great strength had been put to use building the attractions that made … Died 1903. The elephant was then executed ruthlessly. Topsy was a female elephant who was born around 1875 in Southeast Asia. Chronicles on History, Politics, Feminism, Racism and LGBTQ Take a look. Did Edison really electrocute Topsy the Elephant? Topsy quickly grew to be ten feet tall and weigh over four tons. There Topsy was involved in several high-profile incidents attributed to the park's new owners, Frederick Thompson and Elmer Dundy. After killing a spectator in 1902, she was sold to Coney Island. While there, Topsy was involved in several incidents and again deemed unmanageable. Topsy belonged to the Forepaugh Circus and spent the last years of her life at Coney Island's Luna Park. Did he have anything to do with the execution of Topsy? She was sold to Sea Lion Park in 1902 which was then sold to … Many believe Topsy was a victim of the Battle of the Current, namely the direct current and alternating current between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. But he refused. Topsy, who was said to have been involved in the incident that killed the spectators, was sentenced to death. Topsy the Elephant belonged to the Forepaugh Circus and spent the last years of her life at Coney Island's Luna Park. Let us then examine a species a bit more difficult to anthropomorphize (but hardly impossible, given … It received national coverage in the newspapers, and the Edison Manufacturing Co. sent a film crew to … One day Blount went to the elephant's tent and tried to give Topsy a whiskey. As the 19th century turned into the 20th, one of the biggest attractions at Coney Island's "Luna Park" was its private herd of elephants, which roamed freely. She was illegally brought to the United States as a baby and made as a stage animal in Forepaugh Circus. In front of a crowd of journalists and guests, Topsy was then fed carrots laced with potassium cyanide. Not wanting to keep a “bad elephant,” the Forepaugh circus, which was then owned by James Bailey, sold Topsy to a group that helped Topsy the Elephant Topsy the elephant, born in 1875, was a female Asian elephant who had been brought to the United States. While there, the elephant, which was turned into a circus animal, was involved in several incidents, one of which killed a… Topsy, one of which was pushed with a sharp hook between the eyes and on the head. Not satisfied with all of that, he also staged a public demonstration about the dangers of using AC currents. The tortured Topsy then fought back, which ended with Blount being killed. But a chimp has more in common with us than not; for want of a mere chromosome he might discard his bananas for a cubicle. At the end of 1902, the Sea Lion was apparently auctioned off and remodeled into Luna Park. The historical archetype of these executions was the killing of the elephant Chuny in London in 1826. Forepaugh Circus gave a false statement stating that Topsy was the first elephant born in America. The circus toured that year in combination with a Wild West show. Topsy was later sold to entertainment entrepreneur Paul Boynton, owner of Sea Lion Park on Coney Island. However, the efforts by Edison and his company to disparage the Westinghouse system failed as a competitive strategy because AC proved to be more efficient for transmitting electricity over large distances. These experiments were also undertaken at the behest of a commission established by the State of New York to find a more humane method of executing criminals and led to the institution of the electric chair as a common method of execution in the United States. The execution, chiefly by electrocution, has since been the subject of articles, books, and television documentaries, and in recent times has become something of a cause célèbre.  These days it is usually erroneously portrayed as a key moment in the so-called “Battle of the Currents” between Edison’s direct current system and the Westinghouse-Tesla alternating current system, the outcome of which (a victory for Westinghouse) would determine the course of electrification world-wide.   Â, As American society has become more sensitive to the suffering of animals, the execution of Topsy has also been portrayed in the popular media as an example of animal cruelty. Barnum obtained a young elephant with white patches on its face and trunk and exhibited it as Toung Taloung, "Gem of the Sky," a sacred white elephant he supposedly purchased in Burma for $200,000. Although he was the president of the Edison Manufacturing Co., which, among other things, oversaw the film company, day-to-day operations were in the hands of the vice president and general manager William E. Gilmore. Electrocuting an Elephant (also known as Electrocution of an Elephant) is a 1903 American, short, black-and-white, silent documentary film of the killing of the elephant Topsy by electrocution at a Coney Island amusement park. 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 later smuggled into America by Adam Forepaugh, the owner of Forepaugh and Sells Circus, who dishonestly used to bill her as the first elephant born in America. Even though she attacked and killed people, I believe she’s innocent of any guilty act. Edison's DC method was badly defeated. Topsy, a circus elephant that had killed 3 people and was “condemned” to die by execution and the circumstances of her death later became an apocryphal legend of the Current Wars, though a false one. Both are competing between the DC ( direct current ) system and the AC ( alternating current ) system introduced by Nikola Tesla. In fact, the correspondence between Edison and Gilmore during January and February 1903 (there is none from December of the previous year) chiefly concerns patents for phonograph speakers. On this day the the circus elephant Topsy was killed by electrocution. Thomas Edison, one of the giants of American history, is often credited (or more accurately, maligned) with using electricity to … Edison had Topsy fitted with copper-wire sandals, and before a crowd of thousands, an AC current of 6,000 volts was sent coursing through the elephant until she toppled to her side, dead. A memorial for Topsy Topsy was killed instantly and Edison, in his mind anyway, had proved his point. In 1903, he played no role in the direction of the Edison Electric Illuminating Co. of Brooklyn, which in any case was acting at the behest of officials at Luna Park in conjunction with the SPCA. Topsy's old trainer Whitey Ault was offered a sum of $ 25 to do it. This incident was widely publicized. Topsy then reportedly attacked several trainers until they were reportedly responsible for the deaths of three people. These experiments at Edison’s West Orange Laboratory did convince SPCA officials that electrocution was a more humane and efficient way of euthanizing animals than either drowning (in the case of dogs) or hanging (in the case of other animals). Once the switch was flipped, it took just ten seconds before Topsy fell over and died. Abstract An Asian elephant called Topsy was electrocuted in front of 1500 spectators by Thomas Edison in New York on January 4, 1903. 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