Friday, March 25, 2011


Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart - Controverscial.Com

I recall a memorable day in 1987 or 88, sitting on the "liars bench" at the Sarasota Circus Festival with Smokey Jones(father in law of Gary Johnson who's elephant Tia is staring in the movie Water for Elephants, below) and famed explorer/zoologist and Oxford fellow Sir Robert Gibbs. While I was trying to have a conversation with Smokey about the nuances of elephant training, Sir Robert kept interrupting us, instead wanting to talk about the time he and Rear Admiral Robert Edwin Peary conquered the North Pole, regardless of what that "agitating, heat merchant" Fredrick Cook had to say. A couple of circus fan's came over and asked our opinion of the unicorn. What did we think about "Ringling altering a goat and flim flaming the world into thinking it was a "real" unicorn. I was quick to point out that "historically nobody has ever seen a unicorn, it has been described as different animals, and Ringling didn't alter anything, that they in fact had rented the unicorn from somebody named Moonbeam Milky Way or something like that, and all Ringling did was make it famous." Smokey laughed and said, "Not only did Ringling make it famous, but Peta and the animal rights movement helped make it one of the most financially successful show's in Ringlings history." Sir Robert, being Sir Robert told the fans that they were absolutely correct "about a unicorn being a horse," but that "more importantly a unicorn is always seen in the company of a virgin. Not only was that not a horse Ringling had, Heather(Lancelot's caretaker) was also not a virgin," and he, Sir Robert Gibbs was willing to "bet the last remaining herd of breeding Siberian Zebra gelding's against that fact. Smokey shook his head and said, "let's go get a hamburger Wade. I think Bobby can sort it out from here on his own." LOL

Illustrated byUlisse Aldrovandi in 1658 originally published in Monstrorum Historiae, this 17th-century unicorn featured a flat face, a lion's mane, cloven hooves in the front and chicken feet in the back, and an accusatory pout.

Illustrated by Erhard Reuwich in 1486 originally published in Perigrinationes ad Terram Sanctam, Unicorn "sightings" occurred throughout the world, but the mythical creature wasn't the same in each description. Not all unicorns resembled white horses with ivory horns. The Chinese unicorn was cow-shaped and scaly, or horse-shaped but with a dragon's head. The Arabian version looked like a rhinoceros but with a more elaborate horn. Some unicorns looked like lions, some were as big as mountains, some were as small as dogs. Some sported turtle shells. Some had a combination of hooves and chicken feet. Gifted with good taste, some ate only sugarcane. This picture shows just three variations — fairly pedestrian versions compared to their exotic cousins.

Illustrated by Samuel Bochart in 1663 originally published in Hierozoicon, Born in 1599, Bochart undertook an enormous task: to analyze the nature and history of every animal mentioned in the Bible. The holy book mentioned the unicorn, and although there are good reasons to think the unicorn was symbolic, Bochart took the references to it literally. He considered but decided against the rhino and wild ox, and settled on the "reem" or "rim." Readings of Near Eastern literature convinced him that there existed a kind of one-horned goat, and he figured that must be the animal he sought. Centuries later, Odell Shepard commented on the unintended consequences of studying zoology in the library.


Jim A. said...

Not only was the Unicorn" the source of good tales but the "goat girls" also were the inspriration for some jackpots.

Morning Glory was a St. Louis girl, even placed a spell on Zoo Director Charlie Hoessle for making light of witchcraft on the Zoo's TV show.

Wade G. Burck said...

Lancelot was in reference to the link about Elk Shit Star Fleet, or what ever his name was.
How you and the unicorn have missed being honored in the Ring of Fame is beyond me. When the lights darkened, the fog rolled, and Pegasus came through the curtain carrying a gorgeous women and the unicorn, with said gorgeous woman fondling, whoops, stroking, no that's not it, touching in a delicate way, that sound right, his golden horn, it was indeed magic. First and only time in his storied career that the "Lord of the Rings" was bumped off the front page of American new publications. Just crazy, and I remember thinking, "what the hell is going on here!!!" I recall my friend Daniel Suskow coming into the dressing room one day gritting his teeth, fuming and mumbling under his breath, "thinks he's the King of England, who does he think he is, tell me what I can and can not do, I'm sick and tired, going back to France, etc. etc" because GGW had just nixed something that Daniel wanted to do for the upcoming season. Trying to be a good friend I said, "Frenchman, before I got too upset, and considered it a lost cause, I would go ask the goat. I think he's in charge at the moment, and could probably veto a Gunther decision.

dpowhitetiger said...

Heather's full name? Was it Heather Harris? Where is Heather today? It wasn't till The Great Circus Parade in Milwaukee one year did I get know to her...Haven't seen her since....Great memories...Wade you are doing a fanttastic job with the BLOG...Keep up the good work...

Wade G. Burck said...

Yes her last name was Harris, and I don't have any idea what she is up to today unfortunately. Possibly she will enlighten us. Although I jest, Heather and the Unicorn were indeed a classy, spectacular slice of show business WOW. Thank you for your kind words regarding the blog, Dave. They soften the occasional blow and are appreciated. History is entertaining, accurate history is educational. Speaking of the Ring of Fame, now that I have you in a good mood, how does that deal work. A lot of folk's are wondering.
Be safe and keep being what a fan should truly be.

P.S. Any folks who have not made an OABA donation and received one of their beautiful pins, need's to do it now. Dave, Gary and the fine folks fighting the good fight for OUR cause need all the help and support that you can muster.