History on Mad: Wombwell’s Menagerie

The Anya Hindmarch store on Madison Avenue currently displays a Wombwell Menagerie cage, and I wonder if they know the history. Founded in 1807 England by George Wombwell, the traveling menagerie was perhaps the most successful enterprise of its kind outside the U.S., appearing three times before Queen Victoria. No surprise that Wombwell’s foundation was animal cruelty—the lion we see here might have had to fight in a ‘duel’ while being baited by dogs.

Once Wombwell heard that his rival was going to get to a major fair ahead of him and was boasting that his would be the only menagerie there. Wombwell drove his caravans at top speed, killing his star critter, the elephant. You gotta give him points for improv: Wombwell promptly posted signs telling everyone to come see the only dead elephant at the fair.


Shout-out to Joseph Carey Merrick for being the good reason I know this anecdote. Also, please go vegan.