It was Tesla's birthday on Saturday, and the Facebook group Team Tesla has made this cheeky short in his honor. Also, the unfortunate story of Topsy the elephant, a pachyderm who received the electric chair.
As for the "Edison electrocuting an elephant for laughs" tale, a quick glance through the internet will show that it could very well be apocryphal. In any case, Topsy, the doomed elephant, was chosen for electrocution after she killed three handlers (one of whom fed her a lighted cigarette). 1,500 people showed up to witness Topsy's death. The elephant had already been fed cyanide to guarantee her demise. Here's the news blurb published by The Commercial Advertiser from January 5, 1903:
Topsy, the ill-tempered Coney Island elephant, was put to death in Luna Park, Coney Island, yesterday afternoon. The execution was witnessed by 1,500 or more curious persons, who went down to the island to see the end of the huge beast, to whom they had fed peanuts and cakes in summers that are gone. In order to make Topsy's execution quick and sure 460 grams of cyanide of potassium were fed to her in carrots. Then a hawser was put around her neck and one end attached to a donkey engine and the other to a post. Next wooden sandals lined with copper were attached to her feet. These electrodes were connected by copper wire with the Edison electric light plant and a current of 6,600 volts was sent through her body. The big beast died without a trumpet or a groan.
Topsy was brought to this country twenty-eight years ago by the Forepaugh Circus, and has been exhibited throughout the United States. She was ten feet high and 19 feet 11 inches in length. Topsy developed a bad temper two years ago and killed two keepers in Texas. Last spring, when the Forepaugh show was in Brooklyn, J. F. Blount, a keeper, tried to feed a lighted cigarette to her. She picked him up with her trunk and dashed him to the ground, killing him instantly.