The electrocution of Topsy the Elephant

++++contains scenes of animal cruelty++++++++

When I cam across this story I didn’t know what to think of it except for, no matter at what angle you look at it ,this is cruelty.

Topsy was born in the wild around 1875 in Southeast Asia and was captured soon after by elephant traders. Adam Forepaugh, owner of the Forepaugh Circus, had the elephant secretly smuggled into the United States with plans that he would advertise the baby as the first elephant born in America.

At the time Forepaugh Circus was in competition with the Barnum & Bailey Circus over who had the most and largest elephants. The name “Topsy” came from a slave girl character in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

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. After this her reputation worsened, partly because of her alcoholic handler and the decision of her owners Frederick Thompson and Elmer Dundy to exploit her for PR purposes.

To this end they decided to execute her. Their horrific original plan to hang her at the park was stopped by the SPCA. Instead they decided to electrocute her, which they did in front of press, and a camera crew from Edison Manufacturing movie company filmed the incident – possibly the first filmed death of an animal.

It is arguably the most famous animal execution ever. It received national coverage in the newspapers, and the Edison Manufacturing Co. sent a film crew to document it.

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.

The execution was listed in the Edison catalog as:

“Topsy, the famous “Baby” elephant, was electrocuted at Coney Island on January 4, 1903. We secured an excellent picture of the execution. The scene opens with keeper leading Topsy to the place of execution. After copper plates or electrodes were fastened to her feet, 6,600 volts of electricity were turned on. The elephant is seen to become rigid, throwing her trunk in the air, and then is completely enveloped in smoke from the burning electrodes. The current is cut off and she falls forward to the ground dead.”

The title of the short move of the execution was “Electrocuting an Elephant”

This is the actual footage of the electrocution. I am only posting this to show how delusional the people were(including animal protection agencies), thinking that this was acceptable.

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. 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. During these experiments, Edison and his assistants electrocuted a number of animals, chiefly dogs provided by the SPCA.

The cruel act became notorious later on as the subject of an urban legend that Thomas Edison had ordered the elephant electrocuted in order to prove the danger of alternating current electricity during the War of Currents. This is false – the war between AC and DC took place ten years before the death of Topsy and Edison was never at Luna Park.

The execution took place on a dreary Jan. 4. 1903. Because nobody had ever electrocuted an elephant before, they decided to make sure the act would be completed with a combination of poisoning, strangulation and electrocution. Topsy was fed carrots laced with potassium cyanide, and her feet were placed in conductive copper sandals so she could be electrocuted.

Just how many people came out to witness Topsy’s execution is a matter of dispute. 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. However many spectators there were, Edison was not among them.

Thankfully we have moved on from that era. or have we?

sources

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0231523/?ref_=ttpl_pl_tt

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/topsy-elephant-was-victim-her-captors-not-really-thomas-edison-180961611/

https://www.onthisday.com/photos/topsy-the-elephant-is-electrocuted

http://edison.rutgers.edu/topsy.htm

Corporal Wojtek reporting for duty.

 

_56736853_wojtek-feedingDuring World War II, the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the 2nd Polish Corps had an unusual soldier among its ranks, a 440-pound Syrian bear named Wojtek.

Wojtek first came to the company as a cub, but over the course of the war he matured and was given the rank of corporal in the Polish army.

wojtek-sitting-down

.Amid a long journey to join forces with the British Army in World War Two, one unit of the Polish II Corps stumbled upon an unlikely, and invaluable, comrade: A Syrian brown bear.

wojtek-troops

Poland bore a bulk of World War Two-related traumas. After the Nazis invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 — only to be followed by the subsequent Soviet invasion on the 17th — the country had only experienced a couple of decades of independence before it found itself under occupation once again.

Following the invasions, Stalin and Hitler agreed to a nonaggression treaty, which effectively divided Poland in two. Hitler broke that pact on June 22, 1941, when he ordered an invasion of the USSR.

In what came to be known as the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement, Stalin declared all previous pacts between the USSR and Poland to be null and void.

Sikorski-Mayski_1941_agreement

Among other things, this allowed Poles to create their own army, despite technically being on Soviet soil. That they did, and the army became the Polish II Corps led by Lieutenant General Władysław Anders.

Anders

In the spring of 1942, the newly-formed army left the USSR for Iran, along with the thousands of Polish civilians released from Soviet gulags. On the way to Tehran, the traveling Poles encountered an Iranian boy in the town of Hamadan who had found an orphaned bear cub. Irena Bokiewicz, one of the civilians, was so enamored with the cub that one of the lieutenants purchased him in exchange for a few tins of food.

The cub became a part of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company, and soon received its own Polish name, Wojtek (pronounced voy-tek), which translates to “joyous soldier.” Wojtek traveled with the company through the Middle East, as the unit made its way to join forces with the 3rd Carpathian Division of the British Army in Palestine.

after-being-released-from-a-siberian-labor-camp-during-the-nazi-invasion-of-russia-in-1942-the-22nd-polish-supply-brigade-began-a-long-trek-south-toward-persia-along-the-way-they-bought

Growing up with soldiers, Wojtek adopted some rather curious habits. Indeed, reports say that the bear would drink milk from an old vodka bottle, imbibe beer and wine, and smoke (and eat) cigarettes with his army buddies, just as any soldier would.

the-bear-became-fond-of-drinking-beer-as-well-as-smoking-and-even-eating-cigarettes-for-him-one-bottle-was-nothing-he-was-weighing-440-pounds-he-didnt-get-drunk-narebski-said

Wojtek quickly became a source of light in the midst of war. He would often wrestle with his fellow fighters, and even learned to salute when greeted by his company men.

wrestling

Wojtek’s fate with the company fell on uncertain times in 1943, when the unit prepared to board a ship and join the Allied campaign against Italy in Naples. Officials at the Alexandria, Egypt port refused to let the bear on as he was not officially part of the army.

In a quick, if not bizarre, workaround, soldiers made Wojtek a private of the Polish II Corps, and gave him a rank, service number, and pay book to legitimate his status. It worked, and Wojtek joined his comrades onto the Italy-bound vessel, this time as a legal member of the army.

corporal w

By the time the united arrived in Italy, Wojtek had grown significantly from cub to a 6 ft tall, 485 lb. adult Syrian brown bear. Making good use of his size and strength, the company taught Wojtek how to carry crates of mortar rounds, which he reportedly did without fail during the bloody battle of Monte Cassino.

Wojtek not only survived the conflict — soon after, he achieved immortality. Indeed, following Wojtek’s valiant performance, Polish high command made Wojtek the official emblem of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company.

When the war came to a close in 1945, Wojtek retired from army life and traveled to Scotland with his fellow soldiers. Unlike his fellow veterans, Wojtek retired to the Edinburgh Zoo.

Wojtek_bear_statue_in_Princes_Street_Gardens

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