A Mason Fourth of July celebration about 1900 carried more excitement than fireworks and parades. According to the State Republican, an ape escaped from a traveling menagerie and ran amuck for nearly 10 hours. No one was injured except the ape. He was knocked unconscious, damaged his jaw and lost a tooth when the fire department blasted him from a tree with their hose.
The menagerie was â€œProf.â€ Gus Lambriggerâ€™s Zoo. The show consisted of several small caged animals, and some freaks. Tom Sapp the Ossified Man traveled with him for a time. The star attractions were a large python and Master Tony, an â€œeducatedâ€ chimp. It was probably Tony whom the Mason fire department knocked from the tree in Millerâ€™s Flats on the north end of town.
Born Augustus S. Lambrigger on June 15, 1859, the â€œProfessorâ€ spent most of his childhood in Chillicothe, Missouri. While still a youth he literally ran away with the circus. Working various jobs, he settled in for more than a decade, specializing in sideshows with the Wallace Circus. Circa 1897 he married his first wife Julie Boisegrain, a snake charmer who worked for the same circus. About the same time he began his own show.
The paper elucidates how the ape temporarily escaped bondage. A small monkey housed with the ape unfastened the latch. However, in the Journal of Mammalogy, Volume 3, from 1922, there is an account from years before where Lambrigger travels with a young Orangutan who could open his own cage. Not familiar with primates, the reporter could have easily misidentified the simian responsible.
Although the ape fell nearly 60 feet and sustained injury, the animalâ€™s keeper stated that he â€œthinks the ape will be alright unless he has taken cold.” The story valued the ape at $100 and weighing 90 pounds. From available sources, Master Tonyâ€™s final disposition is not known.
David Votta – When not working as the Local History Librarian/Archivist for the Capital Area District Library, David serves on more committees, boards and commissions than he would like to think about.