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10 Famous Elephants and Their Bizarre Deaths

Mike Devlin . . . Comments

It is tempting to grant the title of the world’s most intriguing animal to one of the great apes. 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. Let us then examine a species a bit more difficult to anthropomorphize (but hardly impossible, given the glorious doe-eyed, impossibly aerial turn of Dumbo) but every bit as sentient, as self-aware, as the monkeys. The elephant is the largest land-dwelling beast on planet earth. The most massive specimen ever recorded was a massive 26,000+ lb. monster bull shot in Angola. The below list examines the lives and bizarre ends of some of the greatest beasts who have ever walked the earth.


Abul Abbas

Elephant And Castle (Fresco In San Baudelio, Spain)

In 797 AD, Harun al-Rashid, the caliph of Baghdad, presented Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Emperor of the Romans, a clock that had a mechanical bird inside to pop out and chirp on the hour. He also gave him an Asian Elephant. While one has to assume that Charlemagne was enchanted with the cuckoo clock (this being well over a thousand years before one could pick up such delightful items at Pier One), the pachyderm obviously made quite an impression on him. As there is remarkably little dependable history on Charlemagne, so too are the history books relatively devoid of mention when it comes to Abul Abbas. We know for instance, that he was utilized in battle against the Danish. In 810, when he was in his forties, he died of pneumonia (Abul, not Charlemagne). This was likely exacerbated by one of his regular dips in the Rhine, and the understandable dearth of exotic animal veterinarians within shouting distance.


Old Bet


On 13 April 1796 on the Private Armed Ship America, the second elephant to ever grace the Americas arrived. Oddly enough, the record of the elephant’s passage was kept in the logbook of one Nathaniel Hathorne (father of literary icon Nathaniel Hawthorne, who added the “w” later on). The elephant, named Old Bet, was on display across the eastern seaboard in the early 1800s. Somehow she came to be purchased by a farmer named Hachaliah Bailey (whose ancestral namesake would later be tacked on to the end of the most famous circus in the world, the renowned Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus) for use as a draught beast of burden. But he soon realized that he could make far more money displaying the elephant throughout the country than he ever could having her pull a plow around his farm. He established a traveling menagerie with Bet as the centerpiece. The admission for a family into this rudimentary show was a coin or a two gallon jug of rum. Bailey asserted that Old Bet was killed on 24 July 1816, while on tour near Alfred, Maine, by a farmer who deemed it sinful for the impoverished to fritter away their limited funds on such frivolous things as circuses.


Castor and Pollux


Paris, despite its culturally profound heritage, has seen horrific strife over the years, and the year 1870 brought one of the darkest periods in its history. German forces surrounded the capital of France, a blockade referred to as the Siege of Paris. With supply lines cut, the French turned to butchering whatever animals were at hand. Menus included such gourmet fare was Epaules et filets de Chien braises (dog in tomato sauce) and Civet de Chat aux Champignons (cat with mushrooms). The zoo animals were next. Enter Castor and Pollux, a pair of elephants. Named for the Gemini twins, they were done in with sum sum bullets and sold off to local butchers by the pound (with the trunks fetching a premium). Henry Du Pre Labouchere (a rich English politician and writer) sampled some of this fare, and had the following critique: “Yesterday, I had a slice of Pollux for dinner. Pollux and his brother Castor are two elephants, which have been killed. It was tough, coarse, and oily and I do not recommend English families to eat elephant as long as they can get beef or mutton.”.




Arguably the most famous elephant ever was Jumbo, a huge African bull captured in Ethiopia in 1869. He spent some years in England at the London Zoo giving rides, but was eventually sold in 1882 to showman P.T. Barnum for $10,000. Jumbo, whose name has become one of the foremost synonyms for “big”, got his name from a bastardized Swahili word; either jambo (which means “hello”) or jumbo (“chief”). He was indeed an exceptionally large specimen, probably at least twelve feet tall. On 15 September 1885, the circus was loading onto their train in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada. Jumbo and a baby elephant named Tom Thumb were on their way to their car when an unscheduled freight train rolled into the station. The little elephant caught a glancing blow that broke his leg; Jumbo got hit full on, his skull crushed. In his final moments, his trainer sunk down to his knees and cried like a baby, holding Jumbo’s trunk until he died. Jumbo’s stomach was found to be littered with English coins, keys, rivets, even a bobbie’s whistle. His skeleton was donated to New York’s Natural History Museum, and his heart was sold to Cornell University. Barnum had the hide stuffed and brought on tour for some years. In 1889, he finally parted with the last piece of Jumbo, donating his stuffed elephant to Tufts University, where he subsequently became the mascot.




Any study of Brooklyn’s Coney Island must include the sad tale of Topsy, doomed to encounter the self-serving wrath of none other than the Wizard of Menlo Park, Thomas Edison. Topsy was an attraction at the Forepaugh Circus, and dealt rather permanent justice to at least three abusive trainers. The last made the mistake of trying to feed her a lit cigarette. Topsy was soon sentenced to die for her murderous ways. Enter Thomas Edison. The great inventor was in the fight of his life trying to prove that his model of direct current electricity was safer and more efficient than alternating current. Edison, being a shrewd if somewhat ruthless businessman, decided the best way to debunk AC technology was to electrocute defenseless animals with it. Surely if he could show the American public that alternating current was sufficient to zap such a tremendous beast, no reasonable man would risk the safety of his household using it. They pre-gamed Topsy’s execution by feeding her carrots laced with 460 grams (a little more than a solid pound) of potassium cyanide. Then they strapped on metal shoes and hit her with 6,600 volts of pure death. This spectacle was seen by around 1,500 people (apparently there wasn’t much to do back in the day) and was by all accounts, rather unspectacular. Topsy died within seconds. And while Edison would eventually lose the War of Currents, the incident was far from a failure for him. His film of Topsy’s demise, the rather obviously titled “Electrocuting an Elephant” was viewed in theaters throughout the world.




Mary was a five ton Asian elephant who performed for the Sparks World Famous Show circus. She was accosted by a new assistant handler named Walter “Red” Eldridge in September 1916 in Kingsport, TN. In response, she picked him up with her trunk, flung him into a snack stand, and crushed his head. Seeking justice, a local blacksmith decided to cap Mary, but unless you have a big gun and superb aim, shooting an elephant is a rather poor idea. Mary’s hide absorbed a couple dozen bullets with little effort; it was decided she would have to be hanged. A crowd of 2,500 had gathered, many of them children— to watch something that it would seem no human before or since would ever witness. A derrick chain was looped around her neck and a railcar-mounted industrial crane lifted her off her feet. But someone had forgotten to release the ankle chain which bound her to the track. For an awful moment she hung suspended in torment. Witnesses indicate the sound of her ankle tendons tearing was quite audible. The chain around her neck snapped, her hip shattering as she crashed to the ground. A subsequent attempt was more successful. Several grainy, sepia-toned photographs of Mary hanging pendulous in mid-air have survived the decades, and though a casual glance suggests Photoshop tomfoolery, they are quite real.


Black Diamond

Black Diamond 1928

An enormous Indian elephant weighing some 18,000lbs., Black Diamond was owned by the Al G. Barnes Circus. He’d been a naughty boy in the past, so they kept him chained up to a couple of female elephants to calm him down when he was displayed in public. On 12 October 1929 in Corsicana, Texas, he went on another tear, injuring a former trainer and killing a woman. When his rage was finally quelled, the circus decided he was too dangerous to continue on with the show. They attempted to poison him, but the elephant was too shrewd for this ploy. Black Diamond was shot to death by Hans Nagel, the keeper of the Houston Zoo. He took at least 60 bullets before he fell.




Pope Leo X (of the sordid Medici clan) received Hanno as a gift upon his coronation from King Manuel I of Portugal. The Pope loved his pet and often showed him off. Like Abul Ammas, Hanno was a white elephant (actually a shade of pink), an animal considered sacred to this day by cultures in Southeast Asia. Two years later, Hanno became suddenly ill. Again owing the antiquated understanding of medicine in the day, he was fed a laxative tempered with gold and died on June 8th 1516 with the heartbroken Pope beside him.




By 1994, the technological media available to capture such events as elephant rampages for posterity had improved greatly. Indeed, several camcorders were on site for the August 20th Hawthorn Circus in Honolulu Hawaii’s Neal S. Blaisdell Center. During the show, a 20 year-old lady named Tyke, who’d shown a marked propensity for naughty behavior in the past, had her last temper tantrum. Before hundreds of terrified witnesses, she killed her trainer Allen Campbell and gored groom Dallas Beckwith before escaping onto city streets. In their horror, the crowd dispersed rather spontaneously, resulting in several minor injuries. Unfettered by chains, wearing a garish red headdress, Tyke stormed down the streets. A gentleman named Steve Hirano, the event’s publicist, tried valiantly to curtail the mutiny, attempting to gate her into a parking lot. But a chain link barrier is little more than a casual suggestion to a furious elephant. Steve’s life was spared by quick thinking police, who fired into the air, scaring her off. Cops shadowed Tyke, emptying their service pistols into her hide. Over eighty bullets later, Tyke finally surrendered. She lay down in the street and perished of massive nerve damage and hemorrhaging of the brain. It is more than likely you have seen some of the footage from that fateful day, a sanitized clip on When Animals Attack! or its poorly budgeted shockumentary ilk.

  • Django

    I can’t say I knew alot about elephants before reading this. But this list kicked ass

    • Scaramanga

      i kill elephants with my bare hands and wooden teeth

  • Stu Miller’s Gust

    What an odd and wistful list, well done!

  • SamuraiHP


    what a random subject but refreshing to read!

  • What? No mention of Babar? When he was the King in Celesteville in Elephandland and was assassinated by his brother in law Arthur as a result of the jealousy when Babar married Arthurs’ sister. If memory serves me correct, he was aided and abetted by Pompadour. Mind you – I could have dreamed it all ……..

    A good & unusual list.

    • Arsnl

      French people love their Babar. So much so that a prof once gave me a way to memorize the formula for calculating the momentum in one point, given the momentum in another. The formula is M(B)=M(A) BAxR: Babar that is. I also have another mnemonic(spelling?) formula for the curl of the curl of a function.

  • Wow, what an odd, funny, and horrifying list this was. Very original. I like it a lot.

    • PlausiblePlot

      FUNNY !!! Shall you try and hang yourself, so we can all profit from the “funny” scene that you’ll provide us! I sure as hell could use a laugh or two, I would even LOLzzz a bit, while your legs are doing the involuntary cha cha cha moves!

      Humans make me sick !!

  • oh the harm humans can do. These lovelies would have been OK, lived good lives, ran free and possibly died of old age if man had not interfered. Great list thou, a little sad. Jumbo story really got to me

  • Josh

    Amazing list topic I smiled all the way through this list, apart from when the elephants died… ):

  • Sylko

    This list is very similar to one on the mental floss blog.

  • HappyFearless

    Thank you for this very unique list!!!

  • mordechaimordechai

    Ashwataman was the name of an elefant and also the name of the son of Drona.

  • Suvro

    Just because some people loved to see them kicking a ball, these wonderful and elegant animals had to live a life of uncare and ignominy and die a death of neglect and cruelty, alone and uncared for, far away from home. *sigh*.

  • This was an interesting, though depressing list. Only ever heard of the elephant that was hung with the crane.

  • mordechaimordechai

    hey, wait… what about the “sordid Medici clan???” that sordid clan financed much of what is known as Renaissance

    • Julius

      Sordid’s a harsh word, but the Medicis were a bit fucked up.

    • aartfuldodger

      best. renaissance. fair. ever!

  • itswinston

    Elephants >w<

  • Amrendra

    Such majestic gentle creatures. Sad to see some horrifying deaths of these creatures and mostly at the hands of cruel people. French and British eating elephants that too from zoo. Disgusting!!! How low can you get.

    • Arsnl

      Funny. So an elephant killing another by stabbing him with his tusks is not at all a gruesome death. Those sharp stabby thingies are not for show and tell.
      Hey lets meet in a dark alley. Ill have a sharp stick with me.

      • Libbi

        Many of those elephants were severely and cruelly tortured by their trainers. Their deaths were the result of psychosis from abuse, not elephants using their defenses, or “stabby things.”

        • Arsnl

          How is death by electrocution more brutal than that by getting beaten to death and stabbes? Or a swift death by bullets or a train crash?
          People were sent to firing squads or are still eletrocuted. But not many are executed by getting beaten up.

          • handles92

            What makes it brutal is the fact that these elephants were in a strange environment, dealing with unnatural situations that their own nature could not assimilate to, leading to slow and painful deaths at the hands of humans. When an elephant is gored by another it is certainly brutal, but at least they’re fighting on their own terms. When an elephant goes against man, we all know what the eventual outcome will be.

    • MmmDeliciousElephants

      I don’t know if you actually read the paragraph relating to Castor and Pollux, the elephants in the Paris zoo, but Paris was under siege at the time. People were starving to death. That’s an awful way to die. I don’t like the idea of eating elephants (as noted they don’t taste very nice) but if it’s a choice between that and watching your family slowly starve to death – well, there’s no choice. Maybe you should just back off from your modern indignation as I’m willing to wager you know where your next meal is coming from.

  • Stacey

    What a sad list. :(

  • queendirtydiana

    Wonderful list. Incredibly sad, though. Especially Topsy and Mary. Human beings can be so arrogant and cruel. We think that we have a right to do whatever we want with innocent animals. It’s just heartbreaking.

  • Amrendra

    Elephants should stay in Asia and Africa where they belong and are respected. They should not be taken to the Western world as we have seen how they met such horrible deaths that one would not even expect that on their enemies. Its saddening as to what extent the human mind is capable of doing.

    • chela

      they’re not totally respected in asia and africa either. they’re used as lumber haulers. and the poaching poses a risk to these magnificent creatures as well.

  • Will Trame

    Mary was the only one that I had previously heard of. Definitely a unique list.

  • Ness

    Kinda boring, but a okay list.

  • DsMoto371

    fun list, but it always makes me laugh when people go out of their way to include big words they would never use in a normal conversation. sorry for the lack of capitalization, my phone wont let me on here for some reason.

  • What an odd list, yet a very interesting one. :) This one’s new to me. :)) Thanks

  • Similar to humans, most animals don’t resort to excessive violence for teh lulz. Many of these creatures, specifically the #1 entry, were abused prior to their murder(s). I don’t necessarily condone the murder of anything, human or animal, but you can’t blame a 5 tonne creature for killing their oppressive and abusive trainers.

    It wasn’t ‘naughty behaviour’. It was an abused and pissed off elephant. They’re meant to be quite smart, you know.

  • Poor elephants. Sad how most were mistreated and then killed when they rebelled.

  • chela

    i think hanno was the only elephant in the list who had a great time. it was just the climate and wrong medication that quickly brought his death.

  • pat rice

    there’s video of topsy being electrocuted on youtube

  • OmegaMan

    Hmmm.. I wanted to see some creativity in subjects of the Lists on Listverse. This list did not disappoint in that matter. A very interesting and novel subject for a list. Well done Mike Devlin. :)

  • Heitham

    I really enjoyed this list, it’s weird in a funny way.

  • ashley

    this list is horrible. this just shows how humans love to murder this for their own amusement. especially the hanging. who could have thought that was a good idea. the way people think baffles me sometimes.

  • vanowensbody

    Now this is a Listverse List! Weird and fun topic, well written. I enjoyed it very much. Thanks!

  • Mpwani

    Jumbe is the swahili word for “chief” or representative not Jumbo

  • oouchan

    A very sad list. Animals are not meant to be in cages or at a circus…….and then they wonder why the animals break out and go nuts. I’ve always loved elephants and even had a stuffed toy of one when I was a child.

    Good, yet depressing list.

  • Gabryel

    this is what i was expecting . an odd unique list . lol . well , they should have put historical war elephants (if there is a famous one ) to add a thrill to this list and to know history

  • FMH

    I think the “Goethe-Elephant” is missing. It died 1780 in Kassel, Germany when it fell into an orchestra pit after an opera. Goethe later discovered the os incisivum on its skull.

  • Lifeschool

    A demonstratively sad list, I had to stop read it half way through. :( I feel a bit sick now…

  • Will

    As soon as in saw the title, I wondered if Mary would be on here… Oh home town history…

    • Kayley

      Are you from the town Mary was hanged? I hate that people blamed the town for what happened.

  • Jack

    It’s sad when girly-boys who know nothing about firearms try to be oh-so-technical. Sum sum bullets? Really? I think you meant dum-dums, dumb-dumb.

    • B.T.K.

      I’ve never even seen a real gun that wasn’t been carried by a police officer and I know they’re ‘dum-dum’ bullets. I think it’s more likely to be a typo seeing as how ‘s’ is next to ‘d’ on a keyboard. Calm down there, sport.

    • Mira Bel

      So he made a typo. His list still rocked! Where is your list Jack-ass, err I mean Jack (sorry just a typo).

  • Hercules321

    #4 is just plain disturbing! I can’t believe people would do such a thing.

    Unusual topic, wonderful list! Well done Mike.

  • ConstableDubs

    In History class when we watching a video on America in the early 1900s. A clip included on the film was the film of #5 Topsy being electrocuted. When it was over our history teacher was like “Instant Replay!” then rewound the video and played it again. It’s actually a pretty comical clip if you watch it.

  • dotmatrix

    Weird list, a nice switch from the usual criminals and rock bands. While I’m at it, let me just say that Edison was an asshole and deserves none of the worship he gets.

    • dotmatrix

      Sorry. What if I say “arse-hole?”

  • Macy

    This list left me teary eyed

  • bigski

    if i was an elephant ,i would kill anything that was mean to me too…

  • astrid

    How can some people be so cruel? How could anyone kill something like this? I could not even kill something small like a frog or mouse. I can not even imagine killing something this big and something this intelligent. It’s just evil to me.

  • karl

    what about dumbo :O

  • At first I was amused by the name of the list. I didn’t realise just how sad it would be. Excellent list, well written.

  • Mira Bel

    Very cool list. I never knew there were so many famous elephants. I’d like to see a list done with exotic pets that kill. You see tons of those here in the states on the news.

  • Elemarth

    Of all list titles I could have imagined seeing here, famous elephants and their bizarre deaths is definitely not one of them. It was quite a surprise this morning.
    Nice list, if disturbing.

  • the opinion

    Sad but interesting list. Well done Mike.

  • Doodly

    The one about Mary makes me very angry. Fuck humans.

  • Matt

    This was a sad one. Hearing about Topsy always makes me pissed about Edison

  • karqui

    humans can be really utterly inhuman and stupid. i don’t see the reason why when animals hurt or kill a person, they would opt to put these poor animals to sleep. It’s never rewarding to kill these poor creatures.

  • Name

    People are so stupid.
    Poor animals :(

    • Arsnl

      You should see what humans do to chickens. Disgusting. And delicious.

      • Lifeschool

        That’s precicely why I don’t eat chicken, and never will.

  • Jonnie Stone

    My mom was good friends with Allen Campbell. I remember how hard it was for her to watch his death splashed across the screens on TV. Elephants don’t belong in shows like this. They are very smart and resourceful, but they can be so dangerous.

  • Planet Earth

    #5 i read about years ago and this incident prove how Corrupt him and his friends really was. Nikola Tesla wanted free energy for everyone on Planet Earth . Thomas Edison was a greedy fat man that wanted control on the market and control witch company would get electricity .

    Thomas Edison is prove of how high society wants to control technology and screw the poor. F.uck Thomas Edison he was a fat greedy man that would steal ideas from ppl and when he realize that Tesla was smarter then him he couldn’t deal with it so he decided to attack him what a pathetic old man .

  • Rebecca

    There is one more tragic elephant case that I know of not in this list, although it should be.

    Tusko was a 3-ton bull Asian elephant who was part of a controversial experiment by Dr. Louis “Jolly” West and two colleagues at the University of Oklahoma in 1962. West wanted to find out whether or not LSD would produce a condition in elephants known as ‘musth’ which occurs normally in all bull elephants, and is a period of heightened testosterone and aggression. This was before the drug hit the streets for recreational purposes and it should be noted that Dr. West was repeatedly linked to the CIA’s MK Ultra program.

    Anyway, Tusko, The Prize of the Oklahoma Zoo was injected w/297mg LSD, more than 30 times what a 3-ton human should get. After 5 minutes, Tusko trumped, fell over, defecated and began shuddering violently; his pupils dilated, his legs became stiff, he bit his tongue, and his breathing became extremely labored.

    Twenty minutes later, in an attempt to calm him down, a large amount, of the anti-psychotic drug Thorazine was injected into the elephant. This also was probably to high of a dose. It likely induced a massive drop in blood pressure and heart palpitations. After another hour and no change, West pumped Tusko with a tranquilizer, and a few minutes later, he was dead.

    Naturally a great deal of controversy surrounds this case, and rumors persist that Dr. West was on LSD himself during both the experiment and the autopsy afterwards, and that he also shot up Tusko with Amphetamines. WHile this experiment is quoted as evidence of LSD’s toxic nature, it seems most likely the Thorazine or the combo of drugs killed Tusko rather than the acid. Lending credence to this, in 1984 Ronald K. Siegel repeated the experiment w/ 2 elephants, using LSD only, and in appropriate, though elephantine doses, and both survived.

    This is from an awesome book I have called Far Out 101 Strange Tales From Science’s Outer Edge, by Mark Pilkington, and I don’t own any of the story, or rights to the story, or anything, so please don’t sue me Mr. Pilkington, I just wanted to get this story out there, maybe it will bring more readers to your book, so you should thank me…(It is a really awesome book)

  • Rhombus

    Well, when it comes down to it, I’d rather people killed Elephants than other human beings.

  • Kehmet

    How sad that mans udder stupity is the reason of so many elephants deaths.In almost every instance someone did something to an elephant and the creature reacted like anybody else.And yet the elephant got punished.

  • Elephant

    The saddest list ever, especially the one where they hanged the elephant, I can’t sanction either of these ‘punishments’, these uneducated homosapiens!

  • Did you notice how many elephants were a part of circus when they died or were killed? Please don’t ever go to a circus that uses animals as an attraction. If people want to suspend themselves from a rope 30 feet off the ground then let them and enjoy the experience, but I’ve never seen anybody want to have a whip cracked in their face. I’m not what they would call a person that goes around boycotting animal attractions, but common sense and decency tells me not to support abuse like some of these animals were in this list.

  • Factual Brian

    Thomas Edison was not a “great inventor”. He was great at taking credit for the work of other people. He was great at patenting things he did not invent and refusing to share the credit or royalties with the people who actually invented them. He was a liar and his lies continue to be taught as fact in American schools. This brings to mind North Korea’s habit of claiming that Kim Jong-Il is the world’s greatest golfer.

  • Britta


    As a Tufts University alumnae, I thought that you should know that there is more oddity behind Jumbo than the public (outside of Tufts) might know. After Jumbo’s death, he was stuffed and brought to Tufts University and placed in Barnum Hall. In 1975, there was a fire and part of the hall burned taking Jumbo with it. In a spur of the moment decision, a Tufts staff member grabbed a Peter Pan peanut butter jar from the break room and scooped up all the remains that she could find.

    Jumbo now resides in that peanut butter jar in the Athletic department of Tufts.

  • Bryce

    List was cool but you sound like a pompous ass.

  • Ed

    I’m surprised and appalled at how few of the comments on this list mention any outrage at how these beautiful animals were callously killed by humans just out to use them for their own fun. It’s a dreadful list.

  • elwhy

    Ok, I like the morbid top 10 lists of whatever. But this one was depressing and sad.

  • rhijulbec

    I read this list every day but have never commented. This was an amazing list…also an incredibly disturbing list. I feel sick at the way we treat animals who have no voice.

  • edgar

    How can this @#[email protected]#$ list be ‘wonderful’ or ‘wistful’? Is that irony? Are you folks sophisticated enough for irony? I hope so, because what the @#[email protected]#$ did these elephants do other than try to free themselves from captivity? @#$$# man. @#$$#@#[email protected] insensitive de-sensitized punk-ass beeyotch mother effers who think highly of this list. You’re deranged, stupid humans.

  • Leatherface

    amazing list! very interesting yet very tragic

  • Cmdove

    Shouldn’t things like this make people think that elephants don’t belong in shows and circuses? They belong in the wild, because they are wild animals. And when they act out they are not doing it to be vicious, they do it because it is their nature and they are scared. We need to stop taking these poor animals away from their homes and herds in the wild and just let them be.

  • mrprocrastinator

    This is disturbing indeed…

  • Stu Miller’s Gust

    “How can this @#[email protected]#$ list be ‘wonderful’ or ‘wistful’?”

    characterized by melancholy; longing; yearning.
    pensive, especially in a melancholy way.

  • AshRin

    This was written in a clever style, but the subject matter made my blood boil. Elephants just can’t catch a break. Poached in their natural habitats. Tortured to the point of psychosis and rage in the entertainment field. That hanging situation was beyond deplorable.

  • moopersoup

    These poor abused animals :(. It almost makes me want to join PETA…almost, if only that weren’t so extremest in their views. Is there a less crazy version of PETA?

    • moopersoup

      Also, this was really a great list.

  • RoMacDaddy

    Oh how disgusting humans are. An interesting yet distressing list indeed.

  • Ann Nony

    Couldn’t even read this beyond number 10, broke my heart :(

  • Interesting list.. Rather disturbing, but interesting none the less.. I take little bit of exception with #9. The writer states that Old bet was the 2nd “elephant” to “ever grace the Americas”.. It may be true that she was the second elephas (Asian), or loxodonta (African), but not the first “elephant” which includes the mammuthas (mammoth). They were prevalent in North America until becoming extinct about 4500 years ago..

  • fest

    worse sick list ever

  • Victrola_Fan

    Oddly enough, looking at the various Youtube videos of poor Topsy’s execution, that was probably the most humane death on the list. It’s about one second from the time the switch is pulled, and the elephant begins to stiffen up, until it falls over dead–with eyes wide open. (Walking to the platform, the elephant seems to show no sign of potassium cyanide poisoning.)

    Compare that with the choking death of Mary after the first botched attempt broke her hip, or the bullet riddled death of Black Diamond which must have been drawn out and truly torturous.

    I’ve read many of the comments posted on YouTube about the Topsy video, condemning Edison to hell for all eternity. Most of the posters seem to be completely unaware of the fact that Topsy WOULD have been put to death, regardless, and possibly in a more horrific fashion. One person, in fact, was under the impression that Topsy was especially imported from India–solely for the event. (No attempt was made to correct that impression, of course.) No, it was done for the single, simple reason that Thomas Edison was a monster; a fiend!

    Along this line, there was an interesting discussion about the relatively recent trend to demonize Thomas Edison on one of the antique phonograph forums, as a result of a list posted on this site. (You can find it by Googling “Edison Bashing” if you’re interested.) I think some valid points, especially those concerning what young people are taught today , were raised.

    In any event, looking forward, I hope we ALL live to see the day when elephants are no longer staples of zoos, circuses, or other amusements, but are allowed to live their lives in the wild, among their own kind–as every living creature has a RIGHT to do. I can’t resist pointing out, though, that in this way, if any elephant dies a horrible death–at the hands (paws) of a predator–or is struck by lightening and electrocuted, well, at least we humans will not share the burden of responsibility. (Or will we?)

    Just my two cents….

  • vermilionskin

    Poor Mary…

  • elephant lover

    where is DUMBO!!

  • Joey B
  • jer-bear

    there was one that kas put down in my town back in the 1800’s. from what i’ve heard, they ate elephant steaks for quite some time afterwards.

  • rosie

    this is really upsetting.

  • jaylene

    You forgot the best part about Jumbo! The town of St thomas erected a statue that is there to this day to mark the fact that Jumbos death is the only thing the town is known for. Its a pretty big deal around here

  • sands

    what a sad list! i’m reminded of one of rudyard kipling’s short stories, ‘toomai of the elephants’. the elephants gather secretly at night, and dance together in the jungle. that’s where they belong, not in circuses:(

    and ps, two characters in face/off are named castor and pollux. just fyi

  • eduardo jaramillo

    this might be the most specified list I’ve ever seen on listverse… a good read though, really enjoyed it.

  • Court

    I’m from St Thomas and we have a giant Jumbo statue, which faces towards the city.
    So when you drive into our fair town, the first thing you see is a giant elephant butt.

  • cammy

    this just proves elephants are badass and will kill your horrible abusing ass!!! Should’ve left them in the wild :)

  • The Claw

    What a shame! None of these majestic animals deserved any of this. Blame us humans for interfering with their natural environment in the name of financial or egotistic gain. If these poor animals attacked, it was not because they were blood thirsty. Oh the human being, the most savage beast of them all! When will we learn that nature has everything in it’s right place.

  • I agree that this is a very tragic list, however I would like to add a correction to the information regarding “Mary.” Mary was not hanged in Kingsport, Tennessee as stated. Mary did kill Red, her trainer in Kingsport where she was arrested by authorities and staked outside of the county jail. In 1916, Erwin, Tennessee was a railroad boom town that had three repair facilities for railroads. Kingsport, Tennessee did not have anything that could support the hanging of an elephant. Because of torrential rains and flooding, some railroad tracks had been washed away. Because of this, Clinchfield Railroad in Erwin would not risk sending its derrick car on the 80 mile round trip north to Kingsport in case coal needed to be sent to Virginia or North Carolina. All of the elephants in the circus, along with Mary were sent to Erwin by railroad car. Over 2,000 people showed up for her hanging which was a tragic, excessive, and absurd event. Erwin legend has it that Mary killed her trainer while in pain because it was found that after her death, she had two abscessed teeth. Most of the citizens in Erwin would rather not be remembered for being the town that “hung an elephant.” In an ironic footnote, 65 miles southwest in Nashville, Tennessee is an Elephant Sanctuary, designated for sick, old, and needy elephants. Located in Hohenwald, Tennessee the sanctuary contains 2,700 acres of designated ground for the elephants to roam, as well as heated barns containing comfortable stalls. The goal is to retire 100 elephants from circuses and zoos. I lament the fact that today, Mary would have been charitably received at the Elephant Sanctuary instead of being brutally hanged. Another footnote: In 2006 at the Elephant Sanctuary, Winkie a female Asian elephant, knocked down and killed her trainer for six years, Joanna Burke while she was tending to a sting on the elephant’s eye. Per Joanna’s wishes in both word and deed, Winkie would not be punished for her actions but managed in a way that keeps other caregivers out of harm’s way. Winkie was not euthanized but continues to live at the sanctuary.

  • Haxasaurous

    My hometown is on this list. Kingsport, TN. It stinks to know that the only thing a small town like this is known for is hanging an elephant.

  • MPOP

    Oh wow. Humans can be jerks sometimes.

  • Ashley

    Ugh this is heartbreaking. Those poor elephants :(

  • Eljai

    I cried reading this list.

  • becca
  • Yes. Exactly. :(

  • Eric

    It’s sad to hear that elephants are killed due to human cruelty mostly. And what compounds all of it are the manners of their deaths.