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In the early 1800s the Strand in London exhibited a famous trained elephant, Chunee, who performed stunts for his owners’ profits. He was the star of numerous shows at Drury Lane and Covent Garden. He was male and huge…11 feet tall and nearly 7 tons or 14,000 pounds.
Chunee was bought by a Mr. Pidcock of the Exeter Exchange which had been part of the Strand. Pidcock exhibited Chunee as well as a two-headed cow, kangaroos, beavers, and exotic birds. After Pidcock died in 1810, the animals were sold and Chunee ended up owned by Edward Cross.
Sixteen years later, in February 1826, while Chunee was being exhibited at the Strand, he finally snapped and killed one of his keepers. From there on he became more and more determined to escape his miserable captivity and there were fears that he would break right out of his small cage. Edward Cross decided to have Chunee killed.
On March 1, his keeper tried to poison him, but Chunee refused to consume it. Then soldiers were ordered to shoot Chunee firing squad style. As the elephant knelt at the command of his keeper, he was hit by 152 musket balls, but lived through it. His keeper then stabbed him with a large spear. Chunee died in a prolonged agony.
The human vultures then put on a show of butchering and dissecting his remains for sale to various opportunists. His skeleton was paraded around the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly and then ended up at the Royal College of Surgeons until it was destroyed by German bombing in 1941.
Chunee’s death led to extreme outrage among the public. People wrote to newspapers complaining about the horrible caged existences of the animals, and more complained about the hideous murder of Chunee. People no longer wanted to patronize the animal shows and as a result the Exeter Exchange soon shut down around 1829. The remaining animals were transferred to a zoo in Surrey.
The year was 1903. Topsy the elephant was electrocuted to death on Coney Island on the US’s East Coast.
It’s commonly believed that Thomas Edison was responsible for Topsy’s execution, that he did it to discredit a competing form of electricity—alternating current (AC)—which was discovered by Nikola Tesla. Topsy’s murder was said to be one of many animal electrocutions conducted by Edison in this so-called “war of the currents.”
But others say Topsy was to be killed anyways because she had killed a man and became more and more desperate to escape her horrible existence after a trainer had tortured her with a pitchfork. The war of the currents had ended in the 1890s, while Topsy’s killing was in 1903.
The original plan was to hang Topsy, but animal welfarists objected to the cruelty. So they’d decided that electrocution by alternating current would be more humane.
Edison’s supporters were determined to show that Tesla’s alternating current was even more dangerous than direct current (DC), so they along with Edison had in the past electrocuted a number of animals, including dogs, to prove their claim.
However, nobody had ever electrocuted an elephant before, so Topsy’s killers decided to poison, strangle and electrocute her. She was fed cyanide-laced carrots and her feet were strapped into conductive copper sandals so she could be electrocuted.
It’s unclear if Edison was a direct part of Topsy’s murder. His presence isn’t mentioned in newspaper accounts of the execution, and none of Edison’s writings mention Topsy in any way.
Topsy’s terrible death can be seen on video here …and is said by author Michael Daly to represent “the culmination of an intensively personal and private drama” for Edison.
But the war of the currents had already been lost by Edison, and Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse had won, as their AC became dominant in the electric power industry.
Needless to say, Topsy should have had a life filled with adventure and traveling with her herd, not existing and dying as she did.
Tyke the elephant was murdered in Honolulu on August 20, 1994. She was 20 years old (usual lifespan would be about 65), an African elephant, and was owned by Circus International.
On this day as she entered the ring at the Blaisdell Arena, circus patrons believed she was kicking around a dummy. But it was instead her groomer and he was severely injured. The audience became panicked and ran for the exits. Tyke’s trainer then intervened and was crushed to death by her and then she made a break for it, fleeing the arena desperately, to be anywhere but there any longer.
For a half hour, Tyke ran through the streets of the nearby business district amid heavy car traffic. Circus promoter Steve Hirano tried to fence her in but she trampled him. The Honolulu police ended up shooting her 87 times before she finally expired due to nerve damage and brain hemorrhages. Many horrified people witnessed the awful spectacle.
Video can be seen here without age restriction.
Over two decades later, witnesses still remember it clearly, and in Honolulu animal circuses are no longer popular. No elephants have performed in circuses there since Tyke’s killing, even though using circus elephants remains legal.
In 2014, Moscow International Circus wanted to exhibit “wild animals” in Honolulu, so PETA circulated a petition against it. As a result the circus told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that animals would no longer be used in their shows, so PETA said in a press release:
“As the world saw 20 years ago when Tyke lashed out and died bellowing on the street, forcing frustrated animals to perform in circuses can have deadly consequences. PETA supporters and kind people around the world will be relieved to hear that the Moscow International Circus is putting safety and kindness first and going animal-free in Hawaii.”
Despite it all, many circuses still use exotic animals, including elephants, in their shows today.
PETA provides a list of animal-free circuses here: http://www.mediapeta.com/peta/pdf/Animal-Free-Circuses-pdf.pdf
Stock is material goods kept on hand for use and/or available for sale, i.e. things. Not lives, things. Live stock are, of course, sentient lives held captive for use and/or available for sale. In other words, slaves, to be used for whatever purpose you like, including to be knifed to death and turned into unhealthy food. Or to be kept in hellishly abysmal breeding mills as with dogs for the puppy market. The shameful list goes on, all the stuff of the worst nightmares. But somehow deemed okay by the complacent masses.
People like to differentiate between people and animals, believing it’s okay to keep animals as slaves and sell them, slaughter them, and so forth…but not humans.
Well, except for our violent offenders and murderers who obviously do think it’s (more than) okay to kidnap and slaughter people. They almost always train themselves on animals before finally getting at the real targets of their rage. Now, what does that say for those who abuse and slaughter animals legally, for normal people’s wants?
With me, it was purely and simply a habit, a holdover from generations upon generations past. And of course denial plays a big part in the sham; people love to pretend animals enjoy their lots in life and that being ineffectively stunned (or the more popular these days, fully conscious) and knifed to death is a pleasant way to die. And like everyone else, I used to believe: It’s all absolutely necessary! Otherwise, how will we survive? Without animal meat/eggs/milk, we cannot be healthy! (Which of course is a big load of nonsense.)
A popular belief goes something like: Well, using and slaughtering animals got us to this stage of development so it must be good to use and slaughter animals. Yet at this stage of development, we’re anything but a peaceful, nonviolent, truly intelligent and consistently admirable species.
We hear accounts almost daily of some new horrific case where a child has been kidnapped, raped, murdered, and all variety of crimes against each other, from global crimes like what’s going on with North Korea and the terrorism problem, to one-on-one robberies, gangs of thugs menacing or harming people, etc., ad nauseam. There’s plenty else that doesn’t inspire pride either—anything but. The slaughterhouse, et al, are at the big old, deep root of all of that.
Anyone beaming with pride over humanity’s current state, thinking there’s no better way for humanity to conduct itself, has to be quite deranged. Derangement often seems to be the overwhelming state of mind among people. Those who are well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society are indeed profoundly sick people.
But as long as it’s the majority and “everyone’s doing it,” it’s okay, people believe. Being different is one of the things people fear the most. People are creatures of conformity, fitting in with the crowd, not being weird in any unhip way. Go with the flow, don’t make waves. Live your life the normal way, and aggressively push that normalcy on others. Well, aggressively normal people are repulsive to me. Really, I cannot stand it. Aggressively normal people love the concept of livestock, since normal people well-adjusted to a sick society have always used livestock.
Normal people seem totally oblivious to the harm the livestock mindset visits upon all of us. Believing in livestock allows every form of human-on-human cruelty out there. Since, when we lie to each other to excuse sadistic abuse of the innocent, because of their “inferior” status, deep down we know it’s all lies and that we’re thereby a species of liars. That leads to a simmering dislike of each other, then overblown denial of that dislike and the happy “I love all people!” proclamations. A perfect recipe for the collective insanity we all can admit to when being brutally honest. However…
Thankfully, these days more and more people are realizing the importance of our treatment of animals, realizing they are not stock, they’re highly sensitive beings with as much right to their own lives as we have to ours. So I sincerely hope hordes and hordes of people will continue recruiting everyone they can to the cause and the health benefits of being vegan and opposing all use of animals as livestock.
Then, someday that concept, that vile word and all the horrors that stem from it, will become obsolete, to be remembered by the vast majority only in shame and disbelief.