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By Samuel Hawley

Bad Elephant Far Stream  was written by Samuel Hawley and published by Conquistador Press in 2013. You may purchase it at Amazon/Kindle (Click Book Cover to go to site). Visit the author on Facebook:


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.”

This story will shock you from the start.  It will give you pause to think as to why man will go to all lengths to achieve profit and entertainment value; even when it eventually leads to the brutal death of a mammoth of an innocent animal who has endured over thirty years of confinement and pain.

The old saying, “An elephant never forgets” seems appropriate to the central theme of the story as Far Stream tries desperately to remember the happier times of her youth when she was free with her family in the wild.  Clouding and overshadowing those memories are the years and years of captivity while traveling as a circus entertainer- at the hands of her human handlers.   Swept up in the demanding business of the circus, both human and elephant alike encounter the hard life under the big top where behaviors can go from friendly to mean, cruel and deadly in an instant.

Far Stream captured my heart immediately and her remarkable displays of human emotions touched my soul in a way that I will never forget.  An example of this is when, after a horrible incident, she is seen crying- with tears flowing down her cheeks. She also develops a close bonding, long term relationship with one of her handlers and she becomes friends with a dog near the end of her life, which is very touching.  When the end finally comes for this endearing behemoth- it’s because she can’t control her natural responses to protect herself. It’s a testament to what can sometimes happen when humans and wild animals are brought together in the same venue.

The author tells this tale from the perspective of an elephant.  In presenting the story in this way, Samuel Hawley helped to perk my curiosity about a true story that I may have never read.  I enjoyed this book so much that I had to research the story further- which led me to the shocking and disturbing video where we see the final moments of Topsy’s life. I’ve included the video below.

I give Bad Elephant Far Stream 4 stars.

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell:

Samuel Hawley will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday March 3, 2014 at 7PM Central Time-USA.

The above story was inspired by the following video, Thomas Edison film “Electrocution of an Elephant :