Chicago, Illinois: Man-Eaters of Tsavo

Under-appreciated exhibit at the Field Museum: two lions who reportedly killed over 100 people -- in only nine months -- who were building a bridge in Kenya. The British officer who shot them turned them into rugs; they were later donated and stuffed.

Field Museum of Natural History

Address:
400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL
Directions:
Downtown, on the lake front, at the Field Museum of Natural History.
Hours:
9 to 5 every day except Christmas and New Years (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
312-922-9410
Admission:
$8 adults, $4 children, sr. citizens, students
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Man-Eaters of Tsavo.

Man-Eaters of Tsavo

I would like to nominate The Man-Eaters of Tsavo as inductees into the Roadside America Pet Cemetery. The two lions were not pets, per se, but they were famous enough to warrant a Hollywood movie, The Ghost and the Darkness. The lions terrorized an East African British work crew in 1898. The duty of the work crew was to build a bridge over the Tsavo River. The lions developed such a taste for human flesh that they would stop at nothing to obtain it. The official death count is listed in the 30s, but estimates run as high as 110 when the count includes local Africans not associated with the bridge project. The workers fled the site, vowing not to return until the lions were killed. Colonel Patterson eventually succeeded in bagging the two lions after nearly being killed several times. He skinned them and eventually the hides were mounted. After a stay in England, the lions made their way to the USA. Colonel Patterson sold the lion skins to The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois in 1924 after making a speech there. The price for the skins was $5000. The skins had been cut down rugs and mounted by the museum (which accounts for the loss of size from real life to their mounted measurements today).

[Greg Brown, 12/02/2001]

July 2014: Photo added. The Man-Eaters continue to be displayed.


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