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Mary
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Animal
    (circa 1894-September 13, 1916)
    Also known as 'Mighty Mary'
    Five ton Asian elephant
    Part of 'Sparks World Famous Shows,' a traveling circus
    Crushed to death Walter 'Red' Eldridge, a circus employee, on September 11, 1916 in Kingsport, Tennessee
    Hanged two days later with a chain and industrial crane in Erwin, Tennessee
    She killed Eldridge in a parade before dozens of onlookers.
    She may have killed other circus workers before.
    The infamous photograph of her hanging may be fake.
    Many Tennesseans resented the sensationalized press coverage.
    The exact details of the entire affair remain unclear thanks to decades of rumor and exaggeration.
    Her botched death led Erwin to become known as 'the town that hung the elephant.'
    She was allegedly even bigger than Jumbo.
    Eldridge, an inexperienced assistant, may have jabbed her too hard with a bull hook.
    Her owner Charlie Sparks only reluctantly agreed to kill her because of the public outcry.
    Contrary to rumor, she was never tried and convicted in an actual court.
    Her death was horrific--the first attempt to hang her failed as the chain snapped, causing her to fall and break her hip.
    Her story may have made people start to reconsider the treatment of circus animals.

Credit: Georgina


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