An elephant at a Tennessee sanctuary got angry last week and killed her handler, but word came the other day that she will get a reprieve. She will not be executed.
It’s hard to kill an elephant. For sentimental reasons today, for practical ones not long ago. And a lot of them do go about hurting people. They’ve actually been doing this for millennia, but before the introduction of an ammunition or a darted concoction that could do the job, how on earth could anyone put down a three- or four-ton animal without risking serious injury or death?
Elephants are too smart to swallow a large amount of poison. Legendary big game bowhunter Fred Bear killed an elephant with a bow in 1964 in Mozambique, but Fred Bear was – well, Fred Bear, one of the most gifted and famous big game hunters of all time. (Photo from Three Rivers Archery)
Meanwhile, a museum on Coney Island, New York has opened an exhibit honoring another elephant that trampled a keeper and was publicly executed – electrocuted by Thomas Edison himself.
Not far from last week’s fatal elephant trampling, another small town in Tennessee was forced to execute an elephant who’d killed a person in 1916. Erwin, Tennessee decided to hang the elephant, and the town has been trying to live it down ever since. The story goes like this:
More than eighty years ago, on September 13, 1916, something happened in Erwin, Tennessee that even today causes disagreement among the natives. Mary, the elephant was hanged by a railroad derrick car at the Clinchfield Railroad yard.
The hanging of Mary has been referred to in many writings. It was a question on a TV quiz show and even the focus of an article in Playboy magazine.
A number of Erwinites would like to have the story buried and forgotten and never heard of again….
You can read the whole story at The Hanging of Mary the Elephant. In a curious twist, this decade-old article about the hanged Mary laments the fact that today such a homicidal creature would be charitably received at the elephant sanctuary in Tennessee. Where an elephant killed a woman last week.