Gargantua! - Friday, March 13, 2015

As you may have heard, the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus recently announced that they were going to retire their elephant performers in 2018, largely due to controversies surrounding their treatment.  We truly hope that stories of the harsh treatment of these gentle creatures are exaggerated, although there are certainly historic examples of elephants that have been punished for the crimes of their owners (the story of Topsy is a great tragedy).  Today, we would like to celebrate another exotic animal that was once part of the circus:  Gargantua the Gorilla.

Gargantua was born in the jungles of the Congo in 1929.  Taken from his home by humans as a pet, he found himself with a ship captain who named him Buddy.  He was adored by most of the crew, but one sailor threw nitric acid in his face as an act of anger against the captain, partially blinding Buddy and making him angry.  So, Buddy moved in with a philanthropic eccentric in Brooklyn who cared for him.  Then, one day, the nine year old, 460 pound gorilla went to cuddle with his new mom for comfort.  Frightened, she sent him to the circus, where his name was changed to Gargantua and he was presented as a new, terrigying wonder of the world.  

Gargantua became Ringling's greatest draw and single-handedly saved them from bankruptcy.  Millions of tourists wanted to see the fiercest animal in captivity, with the permanent scowl on his face made by the acid thrown on him as a baby.  One has to wonder, though, what Gargantua saw when he looked out his cage at all the spectators, staring at him in fear.  He passed away in 1949, due to complications from double pneumonia.
QUESTION:  In 1949, Gargantua was displayed with a female gorilla, a possible mate.  What was her name?
A)  Koko
B)  Gargantuette
C)  Toto
D)  Manny
ANSWER BELOW

OUCHIE!  We here at the American Treasure Tour blog do extensive research in the effort to find you thought-provoking and interesting events to celebrate from history.  We have to be honest, though.  After our Gargantua story, we are feeling a little sad and don't really want to delve into all the depressing anniversaries available for today.  So we will settle with the time, in 1997, when President Bill Clinton tripped and accidentally tore up his knee.  The injury required surgery, but not to worry.  He was walking again after a little while.  Those who don't like Mr. Clinton can now laugh at him, those who do like him can celebrate his eventual full recovery.  Yay history!

HAMLET 2!  Today is Andrew Fleming's birthday.  The film director has a few classic comedies under his belt, notably Dick, the 1999 farce about two young women who unintentionally reveal all of President Nixon's flaws that lead to his resignation, and Hamlet 2, offering a ridiculous sequel to the great Shakespearian play.  If you want to honor the 52 year-old's birthday and watch a silly movie, check him out!

QUOTE:  Time is a circus, always packing up and moving away. - Ben Hecht

ANSWER:  C)  Toto, or Mitoto.  There was no chemistry between the two, so the pairing didn't last long.