Nellie the elephant packed her trunk and said goodbye to the circus.
She was arrested two days later attempting to cross into Mexico. The decomposing body of the missing ringmaster was found in her luggage.
The rhythm and tempo of this song is often used to teach people the rhythm of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The recommended rate for CPR is 100 chest compressions per minute. A study at Coventry University compared the effectiveness of this song in maintaining this rhythm with an alternative of “That’s the Way (I Like It)” and no song at all. The version used for the study was by Little Bear which was found to have a tempo of 105 beats per minute. Singing the chorus of the song twice, with a compression on each beat, results in exactly 30 compressions, which is the international standard for CPR.
The use of “Nellie” resulted in correct timing for 42 out of 130 cases, as compared with 15 for no music and just 12 for “That’s the Way (I Like It)”. However, the depth of compression was found to be inadequate in most of those cases, and the use of “Nellie” was found to increase this slightly, as compared with the use of no music (56% too shallow with Nellie and 47% without).
More recently the Bee Gees’, “Stayin’ Alive”, has been promoted as an alternative.