An Old-Timey Circus Scandal: Lancelot the Unicorn

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In the mid-1980s rumors crept through the land of a real life unicorn frolicking about California. His name was Lancelot. While skeptics claimed Lance was really a goat with a bull's horn inhumanely affixed to its head, Ringling Bros. jumped on board and featured the "unicorn" as its main attraction in 1984. People were outraged at how fake the unicorn appeared to be, then again, were people seriously expecting a real unicorn? If I somehow have confused one 5-year-old angora caprine (goatlike) unicorn for another, my apologies. Lancelot was the creation of one Otter Zell, a California naturalist who, he says, uncovered the ancient secret of unicorn-making some years ago. He has yet to reveal this secret formula, but his thesis is that unicorns are not born, but made, developed by the ancients to be herd leaders and protectors. This ancient process apparently involves horn manipulation (one theory is that the young animal`s horn buds are removed, combined and surgically reattached in the center of the animal`s forehead), so that the animal develops a single, central horn--not an implant, but the animal`s own living tissue. Critics called it mutilation; Zell regarded it as advancement of the species.



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