1927. The Turner Bros. Circus begins touring the USA with an unusual exhibit. Their publicity claims it is an “Amazonian Mammoth Ant”, though no such species has been described. For 2 years, they would tour the Midwest attracting the curious and skeptics.
Very little documentation remains apart from their posters and two photographs. The man who appears on the picture and poster is Henry Turner, one of the two founders of the circus. In later recollections from his brother Robert, he claimed Henry became obsessed with the ant:
“Towards the end he was even sleeping in the cage with it […] One day he just took off with the ant. He left everything behind.”
Henry would not be heard from again. The loss of his founder and the stock market crash of 1929 was too much for the circus, which closed that year.
Sources: Donations from an anonymous collector, Library of Congress, Bernard Dupont and Gbohne on flickr, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.