During the 1800s, the circus was one of the most patronized forms of entertainment. The most popular attraction in a circus was the sideshow where bizarre people or creatures can be seen. In 1842, one of the weirdest freak shows featured a bizarre half-breed creature called “Fiji Mermaid.”
The Fiji Mermaid was popularized by P.T. Barnum of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey.
The mermaid was supposedly caught near the Feejee Islands in the South Pacific.
While this strange creature might give you sleepless nights, it isn’t actually real!
The truth is, the Fiji Mermaid was only an upper body of a monkey sewn to a fish tail and it was first made by Pacific fishermen. It is uncertain if they did it for entertainment or ceremonial purposes.
In 1822, a Fiji Mermaid was bought for $6,000 from Japanese sailors by a man named Samuel Barrett Edes.
Edes exhibited it in London for years until he died. Edes’ son sold it to a man named Moses Kimball, then Kimball showed it to P.T. Barnum
Barnum instantly knew that the creature was a hoax, but he still insisted on including it in his museum and called it “The Feejee Mermaid.”
For the price of $12.50 per week, Barnum purchased an exclusive rights to display the supposed to be “mermaid skeleton.”
He even set up a ruse in the circus where he hired an associate to pretend as a doctor who caught the rare creature. The fake doctor then traveled city to city creating a publicity stunt.
But Barnum’s original exhibit disappeared several years ago when his museum burned down multiple times in 1860. However, many are still created everyday even to this date.
Why did people easily believe that this creature is true? Probably due to technological limitations before. Somehow, even knowing it is a hoax, I can still say that it is the strangest and most grotesque creatures I’ve ever seen.
H/T: Creepy Basement