Pt 2



Strong's authentic two-headed baby exhibit, complete with Birth Certificate



Just as people have been enthralled by the world of Human Oddities, the desire to observe freak and/or strange animals has been profitable as well. Freak animals are born far more frequently than Human Oddities and can be kept much more economically. There have been many cases of farm animals born with extra legs, tails, ears, etc. Simple deformities like these usually do not cause the animals any discomfort and their internal structure remains unharmed, leaving the owner with an animal that will probably not die on him any quicker than a normal healthy one.

Animals born with two heads or bodies usually have incredibly mixed up internal organs as well and usually live only a short time. Anyone fortunate enough to acquire a healthy two-headed calf can be assured a good steady income for his show. Most two-headed animals are either taxidermied or, worse yet, preserved in a jar, which like the Baby show tends to either disgust and/or amaze people.

Certain show owners feature an entire menagerie of freak animals by obtaining a few healthy freak specimens and filling out the marquee with odd-looking, but natural creatures, like the Devil Chicken and the Hairless Dog. Hairless dogs sometimes generate heat because people naturally assume that it is an ordinary dog with some kind of disease and therefore inhumane to display it for profit. They are, in fact, a natural breed of dog, the Chinese Crested, that just happens to be hairless, but try explaining that to an irate animal rights activist!

Gary Loraditch of Wisconsin has maintained an oddity museum and a freak animal menagerie for many years. In his show, which features a very impressive bannerline, are a 5-legged cow (see Photo), a 5-legged sheep, a 4-horned ram, elephant skinned dogs, pygmy goats, a goat with no ears (called a La Mancha goat), miniature horse, devil chicken, hippy chicken, silky chicken and, of course, the vulture chicken (1/2 turkey - 1/2 chicken).

Loraditch's show recently went up for sale with all the trimmings, which included his bannerline, tent, and goose-neck trailer for a sum of $10,000. Likewise, the Kissell Brothers carnival recently advertised their two freak animal trailer shows - a four horned ram in one, a miniature horse in the other, complete with show trailers for $3,500 a piece. Certainly, anyone interested in starting up a freak animal show can find everything they need out there to get on the road with as few hassles as necessary.



Gary Loraditch's 5-Legged Cow from his STRANGE ANIMAL MUSEUM

Many times animals are displayed as Single-O attractions; this can work successfully for the Grind Show operator who does not wish to be burdened with the care and upkeep of so much livestock. Some animals such as the South American Capy Bara (The Giant Killer Rat) are not all that large and easy to keep. They presently cost about $500 to buy and exist on a strictly vegetarian diet. A Coati Mundi costs around $250 and can be exhibited as the Crazy Mixed-Up Mystery Animal. Something as simple as an Armadillo (cost $25) will often be displayed as Midnight Flesh-Eating Grave Robbers, but don't try this down South where they are as common as raccoons! Even Turkey Buzzards have been displayed in a grandiose manner as Graveyard Scavengers.

Miniature horses, Giant Steers and Gargantuan Pigs are also common Midway attractions. There are earless goats and goats with four natural horns that can be bought easily and presented as oddities as well. Larry Lundwall exhibits a Mouse Circus which features mice, whose frantic running on a treadmill powers an animated miniature carnival complete with Ferris Wheel. Animal shows truly come in all shapes and sizes.

A good freak animal, such as a six-legged cow will stand alone (no pun intended) as a Single-O and save the owner much trouble in transportation and feed costs as well as bringing in almost the same money as a larger show. Remember, these animals have to be kept and cared for in the off season, even though they are not earning any money!

Some show operators exhibit animals that are not alive, such as large sharks and pickled specimens. When the movie JAWS was popular in the mid-1970's, Side Show master Ward Hall successfully exhibited a mounted or frozen shark. Shark shows date back to the early days of the carnival and are still in evidence today. Delbert Malone's Killer Shark Show was recently featured in the Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA) Newsletter (October '92) along with Geronimo, his miniature horse show. Every miniature animal is billed as "The World's Smallest". Well, why not?

Reptile shows have been popular since the very first showman raised his tent on a dusty sand lot. People are still fascinated by giant snakes and lizards, but with the advent of common pet stores selling reptiles and tarantulas as pets the Reptile Show operator has had to acquire bigger and bigger specimens in order to stay in business. The Giant Snake show at the 1992 Florida State Fair did itself a great disservice in its overly modest presentation, for these were truly the biggest snakes I have ever seen in my entire life! Their Giant Alligator show was equally impressive, although at such a great size the gator was not apt to be very active. A sign posted at the back of his pen read: "This Alligator is ALIVE - For $10 We Will Make Him Move!"

More recently, Giant Flesh-Eating Frogs have become popular. The frogs, of which there are several types (Buffo Marinas - also called the Cane Toad, being good, but illegal in some States), are extremely easy to maintain. A little water, a good tropical temperature supplied by a household water-bed heater, and a steady supply of small mice will keep them happy for years.

Show owner Malcom Geary caught a lot of heat once when he fed live mice to his frogs in front of some marks who in turn alerted the local wildlife officials. The officials informed him that throwing in live mice would land him in jail. Malcom argued that mice were what the frogs ate naturally, but the officials were adamant. Malcom asked if he could feed the frogs the mice if the rodents were already dead. Their answer was yes. Malcom then grabbed a mouse by the tail, swung it around quickly and smacked its head on the edge of a table and proceeded to throw it in with the frogs. The wildlife officials then proceeded to throw Malcom in jail!


All stories are copyrighted Fred Olen Ray and posted here with his express permission,


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