Bad Elephant Far Stream is an animal story for adults, a novel about the odyssey of a circus elephant, told from her own perspective, through her own eyes. Inspired by the true story of the circus elephant Topsy, the subject of the 1903 Thomas Edison film “Electrocution of an Elephant,” it begins in the forests of Ceylon in the late 1860s with the capture of a baby elephant known to her own kind as Far Stream. She is taken to America chained in a ship, a journey of several months, and sent to the Adam Forepaugh Circus in Philadelphia. There, Far Stream embarks on a new life under the big top, appearing first as “Baby Annie,” then, when she grows bigger, as “Topsy,” part of Forepaugh’s famed elephant dancing quadrille. She crisscrosses North America for thirty years with the circus, experiencing hardships, kidnapping, escapes and adventure. But when she comes to outweigh her keepers by a factor of forty—it’s hard not to hurt somebody. It’s hard not to get labeled as “bad.”
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