VISITS

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Tiger Escapes

One of the attractions at Boston May Fair in 1890 was Bostock’s Menagerie, a travelling fairground show consisting of wild animals. Part of the performance consisted of an “Equestrian feat by a Lion and Tiger” where these animals rode around the enclosure on the back of an elephant that had a wooden saddle fitted to his back. A connecting board was placed from the animal caravan to the saddle and the tiger would walk out and crouch upon the elephant’s back after which they were supposed to do two circuits of the enclosure then the tiger would go back to his cage and the lion would take his place.

Bostock's Menagerie.
One evening the menagerie was almost full of spectators who, as they were instructed, gathered in the centre of the enclosure to witness the feat, but when the elephant had been once round the ring, the tiger, in passing its cage sprung off the back of the elephant in the direction of the door. The lion tamer (a black man named Maccomo) was not prepared for this, and although he made a dash for the tiger the elephant being in the way prevented the escaped animal being caught. The menagerie was in uproar with people rushing for the exit steps and women and children shrieking with terror. The tiger was as frightened as the spectators and it darted here and there amongst the crowd trying to hide itself. Several children were knocked down but not hurt. After playing a hide and seek game with Maccomo and the keepers for some minutes the tiger was eventually got in the open and driven into the cage again where it was hit and told to behave better. It was then again placed on the elephant’s back and rode round the ring once more.

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