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. 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. However many spectators there were, Edison was not among them. But apparently, the alternating current (AC) method invented by Nikola Tesla was more efficient. Edison's experience in this matter then prompted Thompson and Dundy to contact him. 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. Once the switch was flipped, it took just ten seconds before Topsy fell over and died.  It is arguably the most famous animal execution ever—the killing of Topsy the elephant at Luna Park on Coney Island in January 1903.  It received national coverage in the newspapers, and the Edison Manufacturing Co. sent a film crew to document it. Topsy was originally owned by Forepaugh Circus where she killed a drunken spectator who burned the tip of her trunk with a cigar. The film was released and watched on the kinetoscope under the title " Electrocuting an Elephant. " Electricians from the local electric company fitted two of the elephant’s feet with electrodes to administer the shock. A terrifying film made the event infamous, leading to confusion over whether this was part of the epic battle between Thomas Edison and Nicola … Topsy's feet were then placed in a conductive copper sandal so that she could easily be electrocuted. But because Topsy has a bad reputation as a dangerous elephant, no zoo or show will buy it. Topsy the Elephant. However, the War of the Stream itself ended in the 1890s. Edison's DC method was badly defeated. Topsy’s true crime, if indeed it was an offence, is to be an elephant. 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. During these experiments, Edison and his assistants electrocuted a number of animals, chiefly dogs provided by the SPCA. On this day the the circus elephant Topsy was killed by electrocution. 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. He played down the use of air conditioning, lobbied congress, and spread false rumors surrounding Tesla's findings. Apparently, Edison realized that AC generators were more widespread throughout the country than DC. There Topsy was involved in several high-profile incidents attributed to the park's new owners, Frederick Thompson and Elmer Dundy. The elephant belonged to Forepaugh Circus and was considered too violent, so it was decided to put her to death. Both are competing between the DC ( direct current ) system and the AC ( alternating current ) system introduced by Nikola Tesla. Topsy the Elephant, had killed a drunken handler, who had burnt her trunk with a cigarette after she refused to drink 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 owner of Luna Park then turned to the latest electric current invention at that time. She, in turn, killed him. 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." Edison then began to question the safety of using an AC system. 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. Wired magazine’s online edition, for instance, ran a story on Topsy with the headline “Edison Fries an Elephant to Prove His Point.” The point ostensibly was that the Westinghouse AC electrical system was much more dangerous to consumers than Edison’s DC system. 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. 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. 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. Did Edison really electrocute Topsy the Elephant? They then also tried to give it away for free, but no one wanted to have it. Due to high maintenance costs and nothing to handle Topsy, Thompson and Dundy tried to eliminate her. Chuny travelled to England from Kolkata on board an East India Company ship in 1811, and, after a brief stint … Even though she attacked and killed people, I believe she’s innocent of any guilty act. A memorial for Topsy The tortured Topsy then fought back, which ended with Blount being killed. Topsy quickly grew to be ten feet tall and weigh over four tons. 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. After killing a spectator in 1902, she was sold to Coney Island. Edison associates had also used the results of this laboratory research during the Battle of the Currents (1886-1892) to demonstrate that AC was more dangerous than DC. The New Bedford Mercury reported that the SPCA officers present had said that “they had never seen a more humane manner of causing death,” though they likely had very little real understanding of the effects of electrocution in spite of the experiments Edison had done. Topsy was a female elephant who was born around 1875 in Southeast Asia. Although Edison's company filmed it, some argue that it was unlikely that Thomas Edison was a direct part of the execution. They get information about alternating electric shocks and decide that electric shock execution will be a more humane method of killing Topsy. Edison’s cameraman filmed the entire scene, and the motion picture, titled Electrocuting an Elephant, was released later in 1903. Topsy, who was said to have been involved in the incident that killed the spectators, was sentenced to death. Died 1903. Not infrequently, she was also beaten and threatened with dangerous objects. He said he would never do it no matter how much money he offered. A baby elephant from Southeast Asia was brought secretly to America. 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). A favorite was Topsy, a three-ton tusker whose great strength had been put to use building the attractions that made … Myth Buster-Topsy the Elephant Did Edison really electrocute Topsy the Elephant? 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. Learning from the past is not erasing history! Edison was prompted to conduct experiments on animals after SPCA founder Henry Bergh, Jr., contacted him to ask whether electrocution might provide a humane way of killing unwanted animals. But the elephant refused, which then made Blount furious. Once Luna Park officials had decided that electrocution would be used on Topsy, they required the cooperation of the local electric power company— the Edison Electric Illuminating Co. of Brooklyn, which under the supervision of electrician P. D. Sharkey provided technical assistance and 6,600 volts of power relayed from new General Electric AC generators in nearby Bay Ridge. Topsy was killed instantly and Edison, in his mind anyway, had proved his point. 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 … Chronicles on History, Politics, Feminism, Racism and LGBTQ Take a look. The execution took place on a dreary Jan. 4.  Topsy was dosed with poison, and a rope was put around her neck. About 10 minutes later, Topsy fell to the ground and died. In front of a crowd of journalists and guests, Topsy was then fed carrots laced with potassium cyanide. Start by marking “Topsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P.T. The execution of Topsy, a female elephant, in a publicity stunt advertising the opening of Luna Park on Coney Island. One day Blount went to the elephant's tent and tried to give Topsy a whiskey. It angered Blount, so he allegedly stuck a lit cigar into Topsy’s trunk. TOPSY THE CIRCUS ELEPHANT (PART 2) In 1883, as part of his ongoing rivalry with Adam Forepaugh, P.T. Let us then examine a species a bit more difficult to anthropomorphize (but hardly impossible, given …  To meet these objections, park officials, with the approval of the SPCA, subsequently decided to use a combination of poisoning, strangulation, and electrocution. Thousands of people gathered in the half-finished courtyard of Luna Park to witness Topsy's execution. The question of Her life represents the treatment of animals exploited by the entertainment industry and symbolises America’s industrial empire. His presence was not even mentioned in newspaper reports. Topsy then reportedly attacked several trainers until they were reportedly responsible for the deaths of three people. This incident was widely publicized. Edison has therefore been accused of torturing Topsy in order to satisfy his ego and further his commercial interests. As if she knew what she was getting into, Topsy had refused the food. 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. It received national coverage in the newspapers, and the Edison Manufacturing Co. sent a film crew to … To be more precise, it’s to be guilty of being a wild-caught elephant held The industrial giant, George Westinghouse, was also supported this discovery, which was then immediately used widely.  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.”. Because she killed … Just how many people came out to witness Topsy’s execution is a matter of dispute. It is also unlikely that he was personally involved in producing the film “Electrocuting an Elephant,” even though the title bears his name. 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. Among the press that arrived at the time, one of them was a crew from the film company Edison Manufacturing who filmed the execution. She was sold to Sea Lion Park in 1902 which was then sold to … Edison's direct current (DC) method was widely used at the outset. The precautions were unnecessary, as Topsy was killed nearly instantly. A baby elephant from Southeast Asia was brought secretly to America. Did he have anything to do with the execution of Topsy? Topsy, one of which was pushed with a sharp hook between the eyes and on the head. Historical accounts of Topsy’s errant behaviour 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. Like so many local illuminating companies across the United States, the Brooklyn company used the Edison name because it originally employed the Edison system of electric power generation under license from the Edison Electric Light Co. of New York. It is tempting to grant the title of the world’s most intriguing animal to one of the great apes. The execution of Topsy, a female elephant, in a publicity stunt advertising the opening of Luna Park on Coney Island. Topsy's old trainer Whitey Ault was offered a sum of $ 25 to do it. While there, Topsy was involved in several incidents and again deemed unmanageable. The historical archetype of these executions was the killing of the elephant Chuny in London in 1826. An electric current of 6,000 volts then flows into her body. 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 sold to Sea Lion Park in 1902 which was then sold to … The incident wasn’t entirely Topsy’s fault; the patron in 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. Thomas Edison, one of the giants of American history, is often credited (or more accurately, maligned) with using electricity to … 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. The execution date was set, January 4, 1903. Topsy the Elephant Topsy the elephant, born in 1875, was a female Asian elephant who had been brought to the United States. Topsy was originally owned by Forepaugh Circus where she killed a drunken spectator who burned the tip of her trunk with a cigar. Topsy (circa 1875-January 4, 1903), was a circus elephant killed by electrocution on January 4, 1903. On January 4, 1903 Topsy the elephant was executed through a combination of strangulation, poison, and a liberal application of the new technology of electric current. 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. The trainer back then was strict and cruel to control circus animals. While there, the elephant, which was turned into a circus animal, was involved in several incidents, one of which killed a spectator. Edison then began to carry out propaganda that discredited Tesla’s findings. While there, the elephant, which was turned into a circus animal, was involved in several incidents, one of which killed a… Topsy belonged to the Forepaugh Circus and spent the last years of her life at Coney Island's Luna Park. But the film could have borne no relation to this so-called “Battle of the Currents,” which had ended more than a decade earlier. Topsy the Elephant belonged to the Forepaugh Circus and spent the last years of her life at Coney Island's Luna Park. Trying to maintain his good name and standards, Edison became involved in a propaganda war. Very likely the film company decided to document the electrocution of Topsy because it was of interest to the public. Abstract An Asian elephant called Topsy was electrocuted in front of 1500 spectators by Thomas Edison in New York on January 4, 1903. 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. Topsy was originally owned by Forepaugh Circus where she killed a drunken spectator who burned the tip of her trunk with a cigar. An illustration of Topsy, a female Asian elephant killed at a Coney Island, New York park by electrocution on January 4, 1903. To prove this, Edison then began conducting a series of trials and demonstrations for AC currents using a variety of animals ranging from dogs to horses as experimental objects in his laboratory in West Orange. Brooklyn, New York. Not wanting to keep a “bad elephant,” the Forepaugh circus, which was then owned by James Bailey, sold Topsy to a group that helped The elephant was then executed ruthlessly. He said that Westinghouse would kill their customers within six months of having the system installed in their homes. For decades as a performing elephant, Topsy got the title as a dangerous elephant, especially after killing a circus audience in 1902. In most cases, Edison had no personal role in the formation or direction of these companies. 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). Topsy was later sold to entertainment entrepreneur Paul Boynton, owner of Sea Lion Park on Coney Island. A Tale of Two Islands: Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Because she had killed While Edison had nothing to do with the decision to euthanize Topsy and took no part in the proceedings, the SPCA’s understanding of electrocution as a humane means of dispatching animals was certainly influenced by experiments Edison and his associates had made at his West Orange Laboratory during the late 1880s. Not satisfied with all of that, he also staged a public demonstration about the dangers of using AC currents. In an attempt to discredit Westinghouse and Tesla by showing how dangerous AC electricity is, Thomas Edison electrified an elephant named Topsy.Find me … Edison is not mentioned in any of the numerous contemporaneous newspaper accounts of the killing of Topsy. But he refused. The elephant traders in Southeast Asia seized the baby elephant weighing 200 pounds. One of them was his trainer named James Fielding Blount, who was drunk. She performed at the Forepaugh Circus for 25 years, and after killing a … Summaries The execution of Topsy, a female elephant, in a publicity stunt advertising the opening of Luna Park on Coney Island. Even though she was pronounced dead, workers still tightened the rope around her neck for up to 10 minutes to confirm. She was illegally brought to the United States as a baby and made as a stage animal in Forepaugh Circus. The circus toured that year in combination with a Wild West show. No, the owners of the Coney Island Luna Park, messers Frederick Thompson, and Elmer Dundy Did. 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. The newspaper accounts vary from several thousand to 1,500 to “only persons immediately concerned and reporters.”  Had Edison been present, the newspapers would certainly have made note of it, but none even mentioned him at all. 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's bent tail was evidence of the result of a severe beating. Forepaugh Circus gave a false statement stating that Topsy was the first elephant born in America. The silent black and white documentary was also the first animal death to be filmed in history. 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. Her dangerous nature was none other than the result of training and the cruel treatment she often received over the years. At the end of 1902, the Sea Lion was apparently auctioned off and remodeled into Luna Park. But was Edison to blame? She killed her trainer, and as a consequence she was hanged from a railroad crane in East Tennessee in 1916. 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. And in 1902, Topsy the Elephant made national news when she killed a spectator at Forepaugh’s circus. 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