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99 Year Anniversary of Infamous Elephant Incident

Todd PittengerSeptember 13, 2019

Friday is the 99 year anniversary of one of the more infamous events in the history of Salina. It was on September 13th, 1920, when a circus elephant was shot and killed after going on a rampage.

The Sells Floto Circus was in Salina on that day, with it’s famous performing elephants, highlighted by ring-leader  Snyder.

According to an article in the April, 1921 edition of Popular Mechanics magazine, following a parade through Salina, the circus elephants where rehearsing inside the big top.  During the rehearsal Snyder became agitated, and began a rampage which lasted for a couple of hours. He tore up tents, knocked over circus wagons, and even picked up a cage of lions and hurled it 30 feet.

Efforts to get the large pachyderm under control were unsuccessful.

Circus trainers initially gave Snyder apples poisoned with cyanide, before he was eventually shot and killed by a group which included cadets from St. Johns Military School.

Today some of Snyder’s remains are currently among the archives at the Smoky Hill Museum.

Smoky Hill Museum Photo





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