Today we commemorate the grizzly death of Mary the elephant. Mary was a member of Sparks Bro. Circus, paying a visit to East Tennessee in 1916, when she attacked and killed her handler.
Some suggest the photograph may be a fake. The depiction of the brutish, senseless act long ago only berates the people who live in this beautiful part of the country, serving no good purpose. Hence, let us take the anniversary of this incident to celebrate that our minds have changed in the century that has almost passed since Mary's horrific death.
Early this year, Tilikum the killer whale precipitated the tragic death of his long-time handler at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. We shall never fathom what was on his mind. Tim Zimmermann provides a detailed, graphic account of the incident with a possible explanation in his post with the title "The Killer in the Pool" published online by Outside Magazine in July. Perhaps, elephants and orcas should not be kept in captivity for our entertainment. Whatever our stance, Tilikum may consider himself fortunate that he lives today. According to Donna Leinwand's post for USA TODAY with the title "Orca to be spared in trainer's death" dated Feb. 26, 2010, SeaWorld's operators decided already then that Tilikum will remain at SeaWorld unharmed.
- Times truly change: Tilikum passed away of pneumonia at SeaWorld last month (SeaWorld Cares: "The Life and Care Of Tilikum At SeaWorld", Feb. 3, 2017). He was 36. His story stirred tremendous public sentiment against keeping orcas in captivity causing SeaWorld to discontinue their orca program. Last March, SeaWorld Cares announced "Breaking News: The Last Generation of Orcas at SeaWorld". Ringling Bros. retired their elephants last May in the face of unrelenting public criticism 'ending a 145-year tradition that made the iconic pachyderms the stars of the self-described 'Greatest Show on Earth.'" (USATODAY: "Ringling Bros. elephants settle into retirement", May 5, 2016)(02/25/2017).