Why did Thomas Edison electrocute an elephant?


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Author's Note: Why did Thomas Edison electrocute an elephant?

Researching Topsy's plight was a sad ordeal for me, and it was an unpleasant reminder of how awful human nature can be. The happier side to the story is that in many places, animal cruelty laws are now much stricter and people who break those laws are widely scorned. It may be too late for the likes of Topsy, but at least we've made a bit of progress in our treatment of our fellow creatures.

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  • Anderson, Brian. "Topsy: Edison's Failed and Disturbing Power Grab." Motherboard. Jan. 4, 2012. (July 2, 2015) http://motherboard.vice.com/read/topsy
  • Blakemore, Erin. "Did Thomas Edison really electrocute an elephant?" Modern Notion. Mar. 25, 2015. (July 2, 2015) http://modernnotion.com/thomas-edison-really-electrocute-elephant/
  • Cahalan, Susannah. "How America Worshipped — and Tortured — the Elephant." New York Post. Dec. 21, 2013. (July 2, 2015) http://nypost.com/2013/12/21/how-america-worshipped-and-tortured-the-elephant/
  • Croke, Vicki Constantine. "Three-ring Circuses." New York Times. Dec. 13, 2013. (July 2, 2015) http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/books/review/topsy-and-behemoth.html
  • Holodny, Elena. "Thomas Edison Secretly Financed the First Electric Chair to Destroy His Rival." Business Insider. July 9, 2014. (July 2, 2015) http://www.businessinsider.com/edison-financed-the-electric-chair-2014-7
  • King, Gilbert. "Edison vs. Westinghouse: A Shocking Rivalry." Smithsonian Magazine. Oct. 11, 2011. (July 2, 2015) http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/edison-vs-westinghouse-a-shocking-rivalry-102146036/?no-ist
  • Kist, William. "Michael Daly's Heartbreaking 'Topsy' Recounts the Cutthroat, Cruel Circus World of 100 Years Ago." Cleveland Plain Dealer. July 3, 2013. (July 2, 2015) http://www.cleveland.com/books/index.ssf/2013/07/michael_dalys_heartbreaking_to.html
  • Knapp, Alex. "Nikola Tesla Wasn't God and Thomas Edison Wasn't the Devil." Forbes. May 18, 2012. (July 2, 2015) http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2012/05/18/nikola-tesla-wasnt-god-and-thomas-edison-wasnt-the-devil/
  • Stuart, Jan. "'Topsy' by Michael Daly." Boston Globe. July 20, 2013. (July 2, 2015) https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2013/07/20/book-review-topsy-the-startling-story-crooked-tailed-elephant-barnum-and-american-wizard-thomas-edison-michael-daly/otb00VjoT2o6fStGJs4x5J/story.html
  • Vognar, Chris. "From Topsy to Rasha, the Coexistence of Man and Elephant Has Evolved." The Dallas Morning News. July 27, 2013. (July 2, 2015) http://www.dallasnews.com/lifestyles/books/20130726-from-topsy-to-rasha-the-coexistence-of-man-and-elephant-has-evolved.ece