Topsy was an Asian elephant who became a dangerous embarrassment to one of America’s first amusement parks on Coney Island. Tormented and abused, she killed people through no fault of her own.
Edison also wanted to prove that direct current was safer than alternating current (the alternative promoted by his rival, George Westinghouse) and thereby win the battle to electrify America.
Topsy was murdered because expediency and spectacle conspired with power and profit.
Thanks to text from Kim Stallwood.