Unicorn Week – It’s Alive!

In the province of Agaus [ in Ethiopia ] has been seen the Unicorn, that beast so much talked of and so little known; the prodigious Swiftness with which this creature runs from one Wood into another has given me no opportunity of examining it particularly, yet i have had so near a sight of it as to be able to give some description of it. The shape is the same as that of a beautiful horse, exact and nicely proportioned, of a Bay color, with a black tail, which in some provinces is long, in others very short; some have long manes hanging to the ground. They are so Timorous that they never feed but surrounded with other beasts that defend them.

Hieronymous Lobo

A Voyage To Abyssinia

trans. Samuel Johnson

The London Zoological Gardens were the scene of much excitement at the exhibition of the two Unicorn rams, part of a gift from the King Of Nepal. Berridge write in ‘Marvels Of The Animal World’ [ 1921 ] :

Although receiving the name of unicorn-sheep,
these animals really possessed a pair of horns,
for if we examine one of their skulls and remove the horn-sheath from 
its bony support it will be noticed 
that the latter is composed of two quite separate structures. 

It caused such a controversy that even residents began to leave comments on the Nepalese Court’s Facebook Page, as one resident writes –

There is no special breed of one-horned sheep in Nepal, nor are the specimens which have been brought here for sale natural freaks. By certain mal-treatment ordinary two-horned sheep are converted into a one-horned variety. The process adopted is branding with a red-hot iron the male lambs when about two or three months old on their horns when they are beginning to sprout. The wounds are treated with a mixture of oil and soot and when they heal, instead of growing at their usual places and spreading, come out as one from the middle of the skull… I am told that the object of producing these curiosities is to obtain fancy prices for them from the wealthy people of Nepal.

Rando British Hater

Dr. Doves Unicorns

Dr. W. Franklin Dove of Maine University far from being rightfully appalled, was inspired by this knowledge and sought out to create his own Unicorns. He did this not on a whim but by using his uhm… ‘expertise’ to ascertain that the rumours of artificial unicorns with one horn do not grow out of the skull but instead begin as loosely attached bits of tissue under the skin which then root themselves into the bone. In theory this means they can sprout anywhere on the head, even over a division of bone on the forehead.

In order to fully understand much of the content I will be covering in the week, you will often need to go back to previous pieces to brush up on certain people, here are a few articles for reference.

The AETHER

Some ideas have the power to persist well past their expiration date, with our modern political climate you will no doubt have seen evidence of this. Ideas have a way of living on long after their propagators, be it theirs or another’s. Such too was the idea of the Aether. A supposedly universal, all-encompassing in […]

Carrion Comfort

Written By Gerard Manley Hopkins Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee; Not untwist – slack they may be – these last strands of man In me or, most weary, cry I can no more. I can; Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose to be. But ah, but O thou […]

My Own Heart Let Me Have More Pity On

By Gerard Manley Hopkins My own heart let me have more pity on; let Me live to my sad self hereafter kind, Charitable; not live this tormented mind With this tormented mind tormenting yet. I cast for comfort I can no more get By groping round my comfortless, than blind Eyes in their dark can […]

So in theory, Dr. Dove reasoned, the horns could sprout anywhere on the head, taking a day old Ayehsire bull calf, he surgically removed its horn buds and trimmed them to fit together so he could plant them in the centre of its forehead, three months later the bull calf had a solid horn over a foot in length, making it easier for him to become the dominant male, and quite funny to add, made for quite the tool in uprooting fences.

On the 7th of February 1984 the process made famous by Dr. Dove was patented by one Timothy G. Zell, claiming that positioning the goats horn over certain places on its head would stimulate its mental and spiritual powers, four of these goats were put on exhibition by the Ringling Brother and Barnum & Bailey Circus in the US – including one named Lancelot – The Living Unicorn. This was short lived however as in April 1985 United States Federal Inspectors ruled it such that the Circus was not entitled to bill the creatures as Unicorns.

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