Posts Tagged ‘Topsy elephant’

An elephant dies at Coney Island

June 2, 2010

No one denied that Topsy was one temperamental elephant.

A resident of Luna Park, one of the spectacular Coney Island amusement parks of the early 1900s, the 28-year-old pachyderm had already killed three trainers.

[Well, one did kind of ask for it by trying to feed her a lit cigarette.]

Luna Park’s boss wanted her put to sleep. This being Coney Island, he made a show of it.

More than a thousand people came to an arena to watch Topsy eat cyanide-laced carrots.

She didn’t die though. After considering hanging, Luna Park officials decided to electrocute her. Enter Thomas Edison, who sought a venue to prove that his direct current was safer than alternating current.

Luna Park gave Edison the go-ahead. On January 5, 1903, more than 1,500 people watched three-ton Topsy take 10 seconds of alternating current. Her grisly end was soundless and instant.

Edison filmed Topsy’s death and called the footage “Electrocuting an Elephant.”

Elephants have a long history entertaining New Yorkers. Read more about it here and here.