Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. Author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), The Unexplained (1996), Mysteries of Planet Earth (1999), The Beasts That Hide From Man (2003), and more recently Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), Dragons in Zoology, Cryptozoology, and Culture (2013), A Manifestation of Monsters (2015), Here's Nessie! (2016), and what is already considered to be his magnum opus, Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors (2016), his many fans have been badgering him to join the blogosphere for years. The CFZ Blog Network is proud to have finally persuaded him to do so.

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Thursday, 8 March 2018


Exquisite engraving from 1898 of Phrynus tessellatus, a Caribbean species of amblypygid or tailless whip scorpion (public domain)

Readers of a certain age (i.e. my own or older) will probably recognise that the main title of this ShukerNature article of mine is a totally shameless parody of the title from a famous comedy song released in 1938 by the much-loved British war-time singer Gracie Fields, the song in question being 'It's the Biggest Aspidastra in the World!' (I know, I know, but it was just too fantastic a pun to let pass!).

And here, just in case you were wondering what one looked like, is an aspidistra (note correct spelling of name) – although, sadly, it's not the biggest in the world! (© Frank C. Müller/Wikipedia – CC BY-SA 4.0 licence)

Anyway, aspidistras aside (but see this blog article's epilogue for a short note regarding the odd spelling and pronunciation of their name as featured in Gracie's song but nowhere else), just what are amblypygids?

Illustration of an amblypygid from C.L. Koch's Die Arachniden (1841) (public domain)

I first learned about them as a child when reading the August 1966 issue of the then-monthly (previously-weekly) British magazine Animals, which contained an article by naturalist R.C.H. Sweeney memorably entitled ''Monsters' of the Caves'. This proved to be an excerpt from his forthcoming book The Scurrying Bush, and told of his encountering these ostensibly unearthly creatures while exploring various large, many-tunnelled caves in Tanzania's Mkulumuzi Gorge. Also known as tailless whip scorpions, amblypygids are arachnids related to the vinegaroons or tailed whip scorpions, but they look more like exceedingly long-limbed spiders, albeit of the kind from which nightmares are spawned. In reality, however, they are basically harmless, lacking both a sting and venom fangs, though they can give quite a nasty bite with their chelicerae (the principal, inner jaws of arachnids) or nip with their pincer-bearing pedipalps (the outer jaws of arachnids).

A vinegaroon or tailed whip scorpion, exhibiting its posterior whip-tail or flagellum and its elongated first pair of limbs or whip-legs (© Glenn Bartolotti/Wikipedia – CC BY-SA 4.0 licence)

Whereas the vinegaroons earn their tailed whip scorpion appellation primarily from their long whip-like tail or flagellum, the amblypygids earn their tailless whip scorpion counterpart not just from the fact that they lack any such tail but also from their specialised first pair of limbs, which are exceptionally long and slender (as they also are but to a much lesser extent in vinegaroons), thereby possessing a fanciful resemblance to whips (even though they are not utilised in any comparable manner to such implements). Indeed, their 'whip limbs' are so inordinately elongate (even by normal amblypygid limb standards!) that they can measure up to several times the length of their entire body, and are so fragile that they readily snap off.

Amblypygid with one damaged whip limb (© Iskander HFC/Wikipedia – CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

Coupling their whip limbs with these extraordinary arachnids' spider-like overall outward appearance, amblypygids are sometimes loosely dubbed whip spiders, but in reality they constitute an entirely separate taxonomic order of arachnids (Amblypygi) from true spiders (Araneae), just as tailed whip scorpions (Thelyphonida) do from true scorpions (Scorpiones) (again, these latter two groups are superficially reminiscent of one another externally, this time due primarily to the posterior tail-like flagellum of the tailed whip scorpions recalling the posterior sting of the true scorpions).

An amalgamation of amblypygids (© Geoff Hume/Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

And as if matters of taxonomic identity and affinity were not confused enough already by now in relation to amblypygids, they are also often mistakenly thought by laypeople to be allied to insects! The reason for this ostensibly strange assumption is due to a behavioural quirk they exhibit that is unique to whip scorpions among arachnids but is a major characteristic of insects. For whereas virtually all other arachnids move using all eight limbs, the amblypygids run (very rapidly) and scuttle around only on six legs (just like insects), with their whip limbs, far too fragile and lengthy to be able to function as locomotory limbs, held upwards and outwards.

An amblypygid from Togo in western Africa, showing the full extent of its whip limbs (© Notafly/Wikipedia – CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

In fact, their whip limbs are actually used as tactile sensory organs, stretched out fully to make contact with their surroundings amid the stygian environment in which these arachnids usually live (and in which eyesight is rendered largely obsolete, despite their possessing eight simple eyes). This activity provides their amblypygid owners with detailed information concerning obstacles, the nearness of walls, and the width of cracks in walls or other surfaces into which they can squeeze their wafer-thin, dorsoventrally flattened body in order to escape or remain hidden from potential predators. In short, their whip limbs fulfil a similar function in terms of gauging distances and widths of potential escape routes to the antennae of insects, and the whiskers or vibrissae of certain mammals, such as cats and rodents. They are also used to 'feel' for prey (mostly arthropods, including other amblypygids occasionally, but also small vertebrates sometimes), which once detected is rapidly seized by their much stouter and more powerful outermost pair of mouthparts, the pedipalps. These in turn hand the prey to, then hold it firmly in place for, the chelicerae to macerate into liquid form for sucking into the mouth and thence the gut.

A pregnant amblypygid (© Pavel Kirillov/Wikipedia – CC BY-SA. 2.0 licence)

Most fascinating of all, however, is that research studies conducted at Cornell University in New York, USA, and published in December 2017 have suggested that in some species of amblypygid, adult females may actually use their whip limbs to communicate with their offspring, which in turn may be doing the same to communicate not only with their mother but also with their fellow siblings. If so, this is one of the few examples of social interaction known among arachnids,

Close-up view of a Togo amblypygid's formidable spine-fringed pedipalps (© Notafly/Wikipedia – CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

In amblypygids, their pedipalps are also very long (albeit far less so than their whips), with a series of thorny spines running along their inner edge, and each pedipalp bears at its tip a noticeably large, powerful pincer for firmly grasping hold of prey, similar in basic appearance to the chela of a large crustacean such as a crab or lobster. Just like theirs, moreover, these can also inflict a not-insignificant skin-puncturing nip to unwary, intrusive fingers, or noses, of anything posing a threat to the amblypygid. When the latter is at rest, however, its pedipalps are held directly in front of, and at right angles to, its mouth, folded back upon themselves.

An amblypygid at rest, with its pedipalps characteristically folded back upon themselves (© Psychonaught/Wikipedia – CC BY 3.0 licence)

Over 150 species of living amblypygid have currently been described (plus various fossil forms dating back as far as the Carboniferous Period, over 300 million years ago), and they collectively occur in many tropical and subtropical regions of the world including Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Australia, but due to their reclusive behaviour these arachnids are rarely seen unless specifically searched for, because they are all nocturnal and also spend much of their time concealed in leaf litter or inside cracks or crevices within tree bark or the walls and roof of caves – unless moulting. For during moulting, which happens several times during their lifetime, amblypygids normally hang downward from cave roofs or other raised surfaces, shedding their old exoskeleton down onto the ground and remaining suspended until their new exoskeleton hardens and darkens.

An amblypygid found in a cave in Lanquin, Guatemala (© Nick Johnson/Wikipedia – CC BY 2.0 licence)

Needless to say, however, anyone encountering at close range such a bizarre-looking creature within the shadowy gloom of a cave or other dark abode but unfamiliar with their nature could be forgiven for barely suppressing a shriek of horror, especially if the amblypygid in question is one of the more substantial species. Even the normally redoubtable American zoologist, cryptozoologist, and animal collector Ivan T. Sanderson freely confessed in his book Animal Treasure (1937), detailing his collecting of animals in West Africa, that he personally considered these particular arachnids to be loathsome and nightmarish. As they are certainly frightful in form, albeit quite innocuous in nature, and given that if encountered unexpectedly in the wild they are liable with their extended whip limbs to stroke the face of anyone peering unwarily close to them, it is not difficult to understand his view.

Beautiful vintage illustration of an amblypygid showing its whip limbs extended, dating back to 1911-1919 (public domain)

As for size, just how large are the largest amblypygids? This question leads us into potentially controversial territory, because the most sizeable species have sometimes been referred to as the largest of all living arachnids. However, this claim is by no means as straightforward as it may initially seem, because 'largeness' is not a quantifiable property of an object.

An amblypygid from Chorao island, Goa, in India (© Biusch/Wikipedia – CC BY 3.0 licence)

The length of an object can usually be directly measured, using various systems of unit, including the imperial system (inches, feet, yards, miles, etc) and the metric system (millimetres, centimetres, metres, kilometres, etc). So too can an object's weight, via units such as ounces, pounds, stones, and tons (in the imperial system), and milligrams, grams, kilograms, and tonnes (in the metric system). The same is also true of its area and its volume. But how do you measure its largeness – what units of largeness exist? There are no such units, because largeness is a subjective, abstract concept, not an objective, quantifiable, measurable property. Consequently, when something is said to be the largest example of its kind, it is often something that is both the longest and the heaviest of its kind – but there are many instances when the longest of its kind is not also the heaviest. So which is then the largest – the longest of its kind, or the heaviest?

Komodo dragon (left) and Salvadori's monitor (right) – heavier vs longer, so which is larger, and why? (© Dr Karl Shuker / public domain)

If the heavier of the two contenders also exhibits a sizeable length, we tend to favour the heavier when talking about the largest, simply because visually it is more impressive. This is why, for instance, the much heavier but shorter Komodo dragon Varanus komodoensis is deemed the world's largest species of lizard, rather than Salvadori's monitor V. salvadorii, which is longer but much lighter. But again, there are exceptions, and if surface area considerations are also taken into account the situation becomes even more complex (should the African plains elephant Loxodonta africana really be deemed the largest land mammal, for example, rather than the much taller and more visually impressive yet much lighter giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis, and how do their respective surface areas compare?), thereby making judgements concerning the largest of anything fraught with difficulties and inconsistencies.

As seen here with this Brazilian example, the limbs of amblypygids are disproportionately lengthy relative to their body size (most especially their whip limbs, which can be several times as long as their body) (© KatzBird/Wikipedia – CC BY 2.0 licence)

So, applying this to arachnids, it can be readily appreciated that we can easily quantify which is the longest species of living arachnid (India's giant forest scorpion Heterometrus swammerdami, up to 11.9 in long), and the heaviest species of living arachnid (northern South America's goliath bird-eating spider Theraphosa blondi, up to 6.2 oz), but not the largest species of living arachnid. The reason why those particular amblypygids with the longest, heaviest bodies among such arachnids have also been called the largest species of all living arachnids is that when their whip limbs are fully extended laterally, the span from whip-tip to whip-tip is far greater than the leg span of any other arachnid when its longest legs are similarly extended laterally.

A specimen of Acanthophrynus coronatus (© Raquel Cisneros/Wikipedia – CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

The amblypygid record-holder in this capacity is Acanthophrynus coronatus, inhabiting caves in Central and northern South America, with specimens boasting an extremely impressive fully-extended whip-tip to whip-tip span of up to 27.6 in, and able to prey upon lizards and frogs comparable in size to itself – it truly is the biggest amblypygid in the world! It is also famous for stridulating with its chelicerae. However, the body length and especially the body weight even of these most substantial of amblypygids are still much less than those of the most sizeable scorpions and spiders.

Another sizeable amblypygid, Damon [formerly Titanodamon] johnstoni from West Africa (public domain)

All of which leads very conveniently to a question that I've been asked on more than one occasion by fellow fans of the Harry Potter series of movies. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, bringing to the big screen the eponymous fourth novel in J.K. Rowling's celebrated Harry Potter heptalogy, during a lesson at Hogwarts in which the three Unforgivable Spells are being demonstrated, the teacher in question, ostensibly Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody (though in the climax of the book and movie it is revealed that this is not Moody at all but is in fact Barty Crouch Jr impersonating him using Polyjuice Potion), applies the spells to what many viewers have simply assumed to be a made-up, non-existent spider-like monster, but which is actually an amblypygid. It is also placed on pupil Ron Weasley's head - much to Ron's evident horror! However, this amblypygid is far larger in every way – body length, body width, and limb length – than even the mighty A. coronatus. How is that possible? In fact, this very imposing on-screen amblypygid was entirely computer-generated – during which process the fundamental form of a real amblypygid was recreated, but with its proportions greatly enlarged in order to make it look more monstrous.

Screenshot from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (screenshot obtained here) depicting Ron Weasley (played by Rupert Grint) not enjoying his exceedingly close encounter with the giant amblypygid (© J.K. Rowling/Mike Newell/Heyday Films/Patalex IV Productions/Warner Brothers Pictures – reproduced here on a strictly educational non-commercial Fair Use basis for the purposes of review only)

Finally: it may come as something of a surprise to ShukerNature readers who were not previously familiar with amblypygids, but these somewhat alienesque arachnids can be obtained through the pet trade and actually make good pets, although the most commonly-kept pet species is Damon diadema from Tanzania; the much bigger A. coronatus does not fare well in this capacity and therefore is not generally available commercially. As long as they are well-fed and suitably housed in large glass enclosures with all environmental requirements (especially temperature, humidity, substrate, and hiding places) fully met, amblypygids are generally quite docile, much more so than any other type of large arachnid.

Damon diadema (© AdrxO90/Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

Having said that: in a video clip that was recently doing the rounds on social media, a captive amblypygid specimen belonging to the extremely large Tanzanian species Euphrynichus amanica was being teased by its presumed owner in order to incite it to extend its lengthy pedipalps and snap their pincers at the owner's finger for the camera, which the distraught amblypygid, being forced to adopt a defensive mode, duly did on several occasions, but backing away whenever possible from what it perceived to be a threat from the finger. Finally, the owner closed their hand over the amblypygid and picked it up, and after a few seconds its pedipalps could be seen to move down onto the owner's little finger, whereupon the owner abruptly and visibly flinched before swiftly placing the amblypygid back down and looking at their finger. The pedipalps' movements were too rapid to be absolutely certain of what happened, but after freezing the relevant frame it looked to me as if the unsettled amblypygid had pinched its owner's finger with at least one if not both of them – an action that according to descriptions elsewhere apparently elicits the sensation of having a thorn piercing the skin. (Incidentally, a version of this video clip was uploaded onto YouTube on 7 March 2016 and can currently be viewed here, but I wish to point out that there is no suggestion anywhere that the person who uploaded it is actually the person featured in it; indeed, what looks like the same specimen and owner also appear in a different YouTube video clip uploaded a month earlier by a seemingly different person and viewable here.)

An amblypygid in El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico – as readily seen here, a nip from amblypygid pedipalps like these, while not dangerous, is nonetheless not recommended! (© George Gallice/Wikipedia – CC BY 2.0 licence)

And the moral of this incident? Never antagonise an amblypygid!

Amblypygids make interesting and docile pets if treated kindly (© Caspar S/Wikipedia – CC BY 2.0 licence)


Yes, I am indeed aware that on both the original 78 rpm record and the sheet music to the afore-mentioned Gracie Fields comedy song from 1938, the name of the titular plant was spelt 'Aspidastra', not 'Aspidistra', and that Gracie even pronounced it that way when singing the song. Nevertheless, this spelling and her pronunciation were incorrect, but nowhere have I been able to discover how and why such an error arose, nor why it was perpetuated and never corrected. And as Gracie herself passed away in 1979, it may well remain a mystery indefinitely.

Gracie Fields in 1937, a year before her famous botanically-themed song was released (public domain)

Saturday, 3 March 2018


Vintage picture postcard from my collection, depicting a canine foster mother with her trio of lion x tiger hybrid cub fosterlings (from the archives of Dr Karl Shuker)

Just over a week ago on ShukerNature (click here), I briefly mentioned how, several years ago, while browsing through some picture postcards at a local collectors fair, I chanced upon a vintage example depicting a dog acting as foster mother to three lion x tiger hybrid cubs.

Never having seen this picture before, I swiftly purchased the postcard, and subsequently reproduced it in my book Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012) – which as far as I'm aware is the first time that this picture has ever appeared in any publication, certainly any dealing specifically with unusual cats.

My book Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery, published in 2012 (© Dr Karl Shuker/CFZ Press)

Since then, I've browsed online several times seeking other early illustrations of lion x tiger hybrids, to include in a planned future article, and have found some very interesting examples (adding to various ones already contained in my archives and included by me in my above-cited book). However, I have never once spotted my postcard's picture, not even when I have conducted specific Google Image Searches for it.

Consequently, as a ShukerNature Picture History exclusive, I am presenting it herewith – seemingly the first time, therefore, that this fascinating image has ever appeared online too. In addition, its caption has served as a starting point for me to conduct some research into the history of this picture and its subjects, so here is what I've uncovered.

Once again, my vintage picture postcard of a canine foster mother with her three lion x tiger hybrid cub fosterlings (from the archives of Dr Karl Shuker)

As seen here, this postcard's inset caption reads as follows: "FOSTER MOTHER WITH HYBRID LION-TIGER CUBS. The Bostock Jungle, Earls Court Exhibition. Direction: FRANK C. BOSTOCK.". But who was Frank C. Bostock, what was his Jungle, and when did it appear at Earl's Court?

In fact, as zoological historians will be readily aware, the name Bostock is intimately associated with menageries and other animal-featuring exhibitions, including circuses, during the late 1800s and early 1900s, being a major part of a veritable menagerie dynasty.

Edward H. Bostock (public domain)

It all began in 1805, when George Wombwell (1777-1850) founded a menagerie in Soho, London, but which began touring Britain in 1810 as Wombwell's Travelling Menagerie, and subsequently traversed widely across the European continent, followed by North America (coast to coast), South Africa, India, the Orient, and even as far afield as Australia and New Zealand. During this time, it had continued to expand unabatedly, until at its height it was the largest of its kind in the world.

By the late 1880s, this mega-menagerie was owned and run by one of Wombwell's great-nephews, Edward Henry Bostock (1858-1940), whose father James Bostock had in 1852 married Emma Wombwell, a much-loved niece of George Wombwell. Edward purchased it on 28 February 1889 from his mother Emma (who had received it earlier from her sister, a Mrs Edmonds, who in turn had inherited it from Wombwell upon his death). Edward had previously worked there until September 1883, and enhanced its already-considerable success by combining it with a circus, and renaming it Bostock and Wombwell's Menagerie (subsequently Bostock and Wombwell's Royal Menagerie). So popular did this enterprise prove to be that it continued to tour Britain until December 1931, when it staged its final show, at the Old Sheep Market in Newcastle, northern England. In 1932, Edward sold his animals to London Zoo at Whipsnade.

A poster for Bostock and Wombwell's Menagerie, dating from c.1900 (public domain)

Meanwhile, back in 1897 Edward built in Glasgow his very own Scottish Zoo, a non-touring attraction that was the first permanent zoo in Scotland, but which again incorporated a circus too, so it became known formally as the Zoo-Circus Building (and later the Zoo-Hippodrome Building). He also became a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London.

Edward was always looking out for particularly unusual, exotic animals with which to draw in ever greater audiences to his zoo and touring menagerie, and, as I have documented in two earlier ShukerNature articles (click here and here), it was he who purchased in May 1908 the extraordinary three-species big cat hybrid Uneeka, a lijagupard (lion x jaguar-leopard hybrid), for display in Glasgow after she had been exhibited for a couple of weeks at London Zoo.

Frederick Frohawk's exquisite illustration from 1908 of Uneeka the lijagupard when still living at London Zoo (public domain)

No less involved with menageries than Edward, however, was his younger brother, Frank Charles Bostock (1866-1912). Edward utilised Glasgow as his primary base, but after running his own menagerie for a time in Britain before selling it to Edward, Frank then broke away by journeying to the USA in 1893 and establishing wild animal shows there instead, with partners Francis and Joseph Ferari, especially in New York at Coney Island's vast Dreamland amusement park until 1903, and becoming known as 'The Animal King'. During the opening decade of the 20th Century, Frank returned to Britain from New York as an extremely experienced menagerie keeper and exhibitor but also greatly skilled in the American 'big show' tradition of public entertainment.

Accordingly, he deftly combined these two previously quite discrete elements to great success via the creation of a huge touring animal-themed exhibition officially known as Bostock's Arena and Jungle (but often shortened simply to Bostock's Jungle), which travelled from city to city and, in 1908, was staged at Earl's Court Exhibition Centre, London – during which the three lion x tiger hybrids featured in my vintage picture postcard were displayed. Big cat hybrids were very popular in such shows back then, due to their unusual nature and often very distinctive appearance.

Frank C. Bostock (public domain)

Tragically, however, the immense effort that Frank put into all of his shows and tours proved too much. In early October 1912, after having already become seriously ill with what was claimed by the media to be nervous exhaustion but which was apparently a stroke, he was found to have contracted influenza too, and passed away on 8 October, his 46th birthday, at his Kensington Mansions home in London. Unlike a number of other menagerie owners, Frank was famous and much-respected for the kind treatment that he always showed to his animals – a memorable quote attributed to him is: "Kindness is the whip used to lead dumb animals to obey" – and his funeral was attended by many hundreds of fans and fellow showmen, including the legendary circus owner Pat Collins. At the time of his death, Frank owned over 1000 animals, but I have yet to discover what happened to them afterwards – were they purchased, perhaps, by Edward, or sold off separately to other menageries, zoos, circuses, and/or private individuals? If anyone reading this article of mine has any information, I'd be most grateful to receive it and incorporate here, but credited fully to them by me as always.

Finally: one of Frank's most celebrated animal stars, who brought him considerable fame and prestige, was a trained chimpanzee called Consul the Man Chimp – so-named because of his almost-human behaviour. Insured for what was then the enormous sum of £20,000 and dressed in the nattiest of human clothes (which he would put on and take off all by himself, mend if required, and even wash and put out to dry), Consul habitually walked upright, smoked cigarettes, drank wine and whisky as well as tea and hot chocolate, ate meals using a knife and fork, always travelled first-class, stayed only in the best hotels, and expertly drove his own electric car. Nor was Consul unique. Following his death in 1904, he was replaced by a succession of new Consuls, some performing simultaneously at different shows run by Frank, who as already noted was an accomplished animal trainer. Reading about Consul and his successors, I am reminded irresistibly of another so-called 'man chimp' (aka a humanzee) – whose name was Oliver (read all about him here), and whose famously human demeanour now, in the light of those displayed by Frank's Consuls, seems a good deal less exceptional than traditionally deemed.

Vintage picture postcard (from the same series as my dog/cubs card presented here) depicting one of the later Consul the Man Chimp individuals, who took part in the 1908 Bostock's Jungle exhibition at Earl's Court in London where the lion x tiger hybrid cubs also appeared (public domain)


Shortly after completing this ShukerNature article, I was interested to discover that Frank C. Bostock had written a book on the subject of animal training, published in 1903, entitled The Training of Wild Animals, and currently still in print. Tracing a copy of the original edition online, I saw that it had been edited by wildlife authoress/journalist Ellen Velvin FZS, whose Editor's Note at the beginning of the book provides what certainly appears to be a direct corroboration of Frank's reputation with regard to his animals, and as such definitely bears reiterating. So here it is in full:

Before editing this book, I took the op­portunity offered by Mr. Frank C. Bostock of practically living in one of his animal exhibitions for a few weeks, in order to see things as they were, and not as I had always heard of them.

I was allowed to go in and out at all times and all hours; to enter the training-schools whenever I liked; to go behind the runways and cages,—a special privilege given to the trainers only, as a rule,—and to be a spectator of whatever happened to be going on at the time.

The thing which interested me most, and to which I paid special attention, was that at no time in this exhibition did I once see the slightest act of cruelty in any way. Each one of the trainers and keepers had pride in his own special animals, and I had many proofs of their kindness and consideration to their charges. The sick animals were most care­fully looked after and doctored, and in one case of a lion cub having convulsions, I noticed dim eyes in more than one keeper when the poor little animal was convulsed and racked with suffering.

Had I seen the least cruelty or neglect in any way, I need scarcely say nothing would have induced me to edit this book.

Illustration from a programme advertising one of Frank's American animal shows from 1901, held in Buffalo, New York, in which he would sit casually reading a newspaper in the midst of a pride of 25 lions (public domain)