Thursday, March 15, 2012

If You Missed This Act, Don't Hold Your Breath In Anticipation Of Ever Seeing It's Like's Again

From the "history channel"

Richard Reynolds says - -

Without a doubt, from the standpoint of exotica, this was the greatest “monkey act” ever. In 1984 Carmen had 2 drills, 2 mandrills,1 gelada, and 2 hamadryas baboons. Nothing like that has ever been seen in the circus ring. The mandrills are spectacular with their red noses and swollen nasal ridges in electric blue. The drills are close to the mandrill except they have a plain black face. Exceptionally rare, drills occur only in a limited area of Cameroon and are very nearly extinct. There are a few breeding groups here and there in the West including Zoo Atlanta.

The gelada has a bright red patch on it chest and a hairy cape over the shoulders. It occurs only in a limited range of Ethiopia. The hamadyras, once widespread, occurs in a now limited range that includes Ethiopia , Sudan and Somalia. It was once found in Egypt where it was known as the sacred monkey.

I have never, ever heard of a gelada baboon on a circus besides the one Carmen had. Mandrills and drills, yes. The spectacular colored mandrill would be a natural for a circus man. B&B had one back in the 1890s. The first I ever saw, at least that I can recall, was in the RBBB menagerie in 1945.

Mandrills and drills large and potentially dangerous animals and Carmen must have been ever on her guard. Their huge canine teeth are formidable. One of Carmen’s mandrills weighed 95-pounds when she had him and he later grew to 125 pounds of solid muscle. You’d better know what you are doing with an animal like that.

There have been a lot of baboons in circus acts over thee years but they mostly featured common species such as the olive and yellow found across much of sub-Saharan Africa. Lee Stevens' animals were of one of these species.

I have photos of a common species of baboon riding hippo Tam Bon (or Bon-Tam) on the Sells Floto show in the 1920s. RBBB Red had hippo Zusha in 1997-98 with a baboon riding on her back in the ring.

The problem with baboons from West Africa (mandrills and drills) is that they are prey to the bush meat trade. It has been written that in Gaboon mandrill meat is more prized than imported beef or mutton. All monkeys in West Africa are being wiped out by the bush meat trade and it has the horrible side effect of infecting humans with all sorts of contagious diseases such as AIDS and Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever.

'A couple of weeks ago on the "history channel" I mentioned an incident in which Carmen Hall siced her male Mandrill Sumi on me. I described his fangs(tusk's is more appropriate) as being at least 3 1/2 long. A friend of mine emailed me suggesting I had exaggerated on the size of Sumi's tusk's. To my friend, I have only one thing to say, NUTS TO YOU, PAL!!!! The next time a male mandrill jumps in your lap, goes nose to nose with you, flashes his eyes and gapes his mouth daring you to do something about it, THEN YOU TELL ME HOW BIG HIS TUSK'S ARE.

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