In our previous explorations, we have delved into numerous peculiar instances of historical deaths, many of which were truly extraordinary. However, for a change of pace, we are now shifting our focus to a different perspective: the demise of animals. Just as humans have encountered a multitude of unique and unusual ways to meet their fate, animals too have their share of intriguing tales to tell.
In September 1916, the Sparks World Famous Shows circus came to Sullivan County, Tennessee. On the 12th, the show was parading through the city of Kingsport. At the front of the line was the star attraction – a 30-year-old female Asian elephant named Mary being ridden by her handler, Red Eldridge. Despite its fancy name, the Sparks circus was a two-bit operation and it didn’t have money for a proper handler. In fact, Eldridge had been working as a hotel bellhop just a few days earlier.
The Atomic Cow
A “broken arrow” is a term used by the US military to refer to an accident that involved nuclear weapons or nuclear components, but that did not pose a risk of causing nuclear war. Since 1950, the Department of Defense has reported 32 such incidents, and the most notorious of all occurred on May 22, 1957, when a Convair B-36 bomber accidentally dropped a Mark 17 hydrogen bomb just south of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The Cocaine Bear
The newly-released movie Cocaine Bear pretty much does what it says on the tin: it shows a bear that does a lot of cocaine and then goes on a rampage. That sounds like a ludicrous idea plucked from the strangest corners of Hollywood fancy but, in fact, it is based on a true story.
The Sow of Falaise
We’re dealing with another medieval animal trial here, but this one was notorious enough to garner its own moniker – the sow of Falaise. And truth be told, assuming the accusations are correct, this one actually deserved to be executed. In fact, this is, by far, the grisliest crime that any of the animals on this list has committed. In 1386, a sow from the French town of Falaise munched on a three-month-old infant who later died of his injuries.
Topsy the Elephant
We arrive at, arguably, the most notorious animal execution in history, that of Topsy the elephant. Topsy was killed on January 4, 1903, at Coney Island’s Luna Park via electrocution, and the whole thing was caught on camera for the short film Electrocuting an Elephant made by Thomas Edison’s film company. Edison’s role in the whole affair was another point that helped the event gain infamy. For years, he took the brunt of the blame for Topsy’s death, being accused of engineering the whole stunt to show the world how dangerous alternating current could be.