Mary the Elephant, also known as “Murderous Mary”,was a five-ton Asian elephant who performed in the Sparks World Famous Shows circus. After killing a keeper on his second day at work, in Kingsport, Tennessee in 1916, she was hanged in nearby Erwin. According to the story, during the trip down to the watering ditch, Mary suddenly stopped. She was then seen taking a piece of watermelon off the ground that she had spotted. Eldridge prodded her with the hook. This made Mary become enraged, when she then lifted Eldridge with her trunk, flung him against a building, then crushed his head, ending his life just like that. When Mary reached the derrick, her legs were quickly chained to the rail to keep her still. The other elephants were lead away from what was about to happen. A crew member threw a large chain around her neck, fitted the end through a steel ring and then had the derrick operator lift her. The chain began tightening around her neck and her feet began to lift off the ground, but someone had forgotten to release all of her legs from the chains on the rail. Her tendons were torn. Then, Mary suddenly fell to the ground. Her neck chain broke. The crew then tried again, putting a heavier chain around her neck. The chain held and within a few minutes, a vet pronounced Mary dead. The vet also examined her, concluding that she had a severely infected tooth where Eldridge had prodded her with the bull hook. Her death is sometimes interpreted as a cautionary tale of circus animal abuse during the early 20th century.
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