Artefacts: ‘Consul the Intelligent Chimpanzee’

The ‘Almost Human’ Chimpanzee ‘Consul’ is shown in this postcard as a ‘pupil’ of Frank Bostock’s Jungle. However, since the original ‘Consul’ died several years before 1908, it actually shows Frank Bostock’s skills in promoting profitable acts even after their death! The original ‘Consul’ performed at Bostock’s Coney Island arena in New York, USA before coming to Europe to tour in 1904. He died shortly after his arrival in Europe. Bostock though, had several replacements lined up all billed as ‘Consul’!

From an old article (undated):

The performing chimpanzee Consul, which was regarded as the smartest monkey in the world, has died in Berlin. The chimpanzee was insured for £20,000. [An English paper has the following with reference to the chimpanzee: — “A living argument for Darwin’s theory is to be found in America in Consul, the chimpanzee, which is one of the central attractions of Bostock’s Animal Arena. This queer little man-like monkey lives like a gentleman. He rises at the sound of the gong at ten o’clock in the morning. After he has discarded his light blue silk pyjamas he takes his morning tub… Just before be retires at 11.30 pm he takes a pint of hot chocolate for a nightcap. Consul’s nearness to the human family is shown in his appreciation of stimulants and his fondness for cigars and cigarettes. He would sell his birthright if he had the opportunity, for a bottle of whisky. The very sight of it brings forth a grin from ear to ear. A full account of Consul’s daily doings would be a mere catalogue of all the things that other gentlemen do. He sleeps in a bed, stretches and yawns. He brushes his teeth and combs his hair, carefully parting it in the middle. He dresses and undresses himself and shows partiality for certain combinations of dress. He also mends his clothes, washes them, and   hangs them out to dry. He plays football, boxes like Fitzimmons and can carry a 30 lb weight while walking erect. Consul rides a bicycle. He is the only animal known who has succeeded in getting on and retaining the momentum of the bicycle. He is an expert chauffeur, and owns a handsome electric motor car.  He uses a typewriter and writes his name boldly.  His intelligence is marvellously suggestive”.]The Capricornian

I remember London Zoo holding daily Chimpanzee tea parties. I certainly attended one (as visitor!) during the school trip around 1958. They eventually died out given the rise of the Animal Rights movement and public opinion. That did not stop PG Tips from using Chimpanzees in their advertisements well into the 1960s in Britain.

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