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Krao: The Story Of The Hairy "monkey Girl" - Alternative View
Krao: The Story Of The Hairy "monkey Girl" - Alternative View

Video: Krao: The Story Of The Hairy "monkey Girl" - Alternative View

Video: Krao: The Story Of The Hairy "monkey Girl" - Alternative View
Video: Human Zoos: America's Forgotten History of Scientific Racism 2023, May

In 1883 London was thrilled by the appearance at the Royal Aquarium Circus, Westminster, a girl of 7-8 years old, whose body was covered with thick hair. It has been claimed that she was found in the forests of Laos.

Press reports suggested that it has some of the characteristics of apes, and is nothing more than the "missing link" in Darwin's theory of the descent of man from apes.

Other scientists argued that this is just one of the cases of atavistic hairiness known to science, in all other respects the child is quite normal.

Conflicting information was also reported about the child's parents, including in scientific journals. In a letter to the editor of the scientific journal Nature, it was stated (Resident 1883) that the girl's parents were ordinary Siamese and lived in Bangkok. Other publications said that the girl was caught in the forests of Burma (and her father was as hairy as she was).

In the Rowal Aquarium, the entrepreneur known under the pseudonym Guillermo A. Farini often exhibited outlandish exhibits. He introduced the public to the living gorilla, the tallest people from Africa, and wanted to consolidate his success with demonstrations of hairy people who, according to him, lived in the impenetrable jungles of the Indochina Peninsula.

Farini assumed that displaying real hairy savages would be more attractive to viewers than people with atavistic hairiness, such as the then famous Julia Pastrano.


To this end, he agreed with the famous traveler in Indochina, the German officer Carl Bock, that he would try to deliver such a creature to him. Karl Bock's ethnicity is not entirely clear. Born in Copenhagen in 1849, he was most commonly referred to as a Norwegian, as well as a Swedish and German officer.

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Bock agreed and soon became convinced on the spot that such people really exist. At the court of the King of Burma there was a family of hairy people who were kept for amusement. Bock hoped that it would be very easy to carry out the assignment. He offered to buy one of them and raised the price to one hundred thousand dollars (a huge amount at the time), but was refused.

Therefore, when Bock had the opportunity to join the expedition of the anthropologist Georg G. Shelly to Laos, then a vassal of Burma, he took an ardent part in it.

Shelley and Bock met in Singapore in early 1882. Their first expedition was directed to the Rumbo region of the Malay Peninsula, from where information about the race of hairy people came. These people were called Jacoons. Shelley and Bock couldn't find them. They returned to Bangkok, the capital of Siam.

The organization of the new expedition met with difficulties. But after Bock cured the country's prime minister from a painful illness, he received support, an escort, twelve elephants and a letter to the king of Laos. After a four-month journey, the expedition reached Kyang-Kyang, the capital of Laos.

Upon arrival in Laos, travelers learned that a number of wild hairy people actually live in the forests there. Professor J. Shelley reported on the following events in the expedition in an interview with the Philadelphia Times.


The tribes of the Dayaks, bounty hunters and cannibals were fairly well aware of them. The Dayaks talked about these creatures that way. They are called krao-moniek, which means ape-man. They are considered a different kind of people. The area where they live is poorly explored.

They live in such wetlands, saturated with malaria insects, that there, in addition to these creatures spending their lives in trees, there can only be elephants and snakes. Other people, getting there, get sick from malaria. Monieki twist branches of two trees standing next to each other and arrange their nests (huts) on them.

Shelley pointed out that when climbing trees, they act with their toes, like monkeys, leaning on them. They do not cover the tree with their feet, as we do. They do not use fire, they eat fish, wild rice and coconuts. Their only weapon is a thickened stick at the end.

After the delivery of the letter, the king gave the travelers a good welcome, replaced the tired elephants with fresh ones and assigned a guard of ten local warriors armed with pikes and bows with poisoned arrows. After a few weeks on a new journey, they reached the swamps where the "hairy people" live.

But it was not easy to catch any of them. Professor Shelley said they were difficult to even see. The creatures were extremely alert to danger, very cowardly, and had a keen sense of smell. The native warriors discovered many of their nests before seeing the first.

Finally, a group of hunters, led by Shelley, came across one family for food and managed to surround him. They were a man, a woman and a child, as it turned out, a girl of about eight years old. The parents offered little resistance while the child scratched and bit. They were all completely naked, the body was covered only by hair.

The captives were taken to Kyang Kyang and shown to the King of Laos. When it was time to return, the king suddenly refused to release the captured woman from his country, out of superstition that it would bring him bad luck. She remained at court under close supervision. She seemed to care little about the fate of the child, and she did not resist when he was taken away.

The king allowed the expedition to take the man and the child with them. The long way back began. At one of the sites, the expedition was struck by cholera. The "wild man" and three warriors from their escort died.

Karl Bock himself was on the verge of death. Before the death of the hairy man, Bock took a photograph of him. He recorded that he was completely covered in thick hair, like an anthropoid. Anthropologist Kean (1983) gave a more subtle characterization based on fresh data in the journal Nature:

“He was completely covered with a dense layer of hair, similar to that of anthropoid monkeys. Not only on his face were there a thick and bushy beard and sideburns … Long arms and a rounded belly indicated an affinity for the forms of monkeys, while his ability to speak and level of intelligence were such that before his death he was able to learn to pronounce a few words in Malay."

A photograph of Krao's alleged father, allegedly taken by a camera obscura, appears in a pamphlet by Farini and Boca for the show with Krao at the Westminster Aquarium. It is also possible that this is an engraving from a photograph made for printing.


On October 4, 1882, the expedition with the captured girl returned to Europe. The girl was then about seven to eight years old.

Characteristic features of Krao

She received the name Krao among people after the family was caught, when her parents warned her about the danger with this cry. Professor Shelley was interviewed by the Philadelphia Times in which he emphasized the following specific features of Krao:

“Her whole body is covered with hair, except for her palms and soles. Hair growth on the forearm is upward. The hair on the forehead is very different from the hair on the rest of the head. They are bushy, measuring three-eighths of an inch (9 mm) long. On her back, the hair is directed towards the middle and over time, as she gets older, it will form a kind of mane, such as that of her father and mother. Her hands and feet, although human in shape, had the same grasping ability that monkeys have. She has thirteen pairs of ribs and thirteen thoracic vertebrae, like a chimpanzee, while we only have twelve. In addition, she has cheek pouches in her mouth, in which she keeps nuts and other food, like monkeys."


The publication of the newspaper describes how the journalists reacted to this message of the professor. One of them said:

- I am ready to swallow everything in this story, except for the cheek pouches in the mouth!

Then Shelley went into the next room and soon returned with Krao. Everyone could examine the bags in their mouths with a nut in each one. At the end of the interview, the child signed and presented everyone with his photo and quite meaningfully talked with those present.

In the same interview, Shelley said that Krao was examined by such luminaries of science of the time as Professor Rudolf Virchow from the University of Berlin, Professors Kirchhoff and Welcher from the University of Gali, Darwinist Ernst Haeckel and many other scientists who published publications in various medical and general scientific journals. They noted many of Krao's features. They called her the "Missing Link" between ape and man, but also "monkey man."


Most of them, without considering the peculiarities of Krao's morphology as a whole, and also driven by anti-Darwinian sentiments, reduced the phenomenon to a rare, but still familiar diagnosis of hypertrichosis of an ordinary person.

Anthropologist Keane AH, who prepared publications in the leading scientific journal Nature (Keane 1883), advocated a thorough study of Krao from the standpoint of the origin of mankind, as well as the possibility of detecting an unknown human race. Let us supplement J. Shelley's description with the observations given by A. Keane:

“Her nose was extremely low and wide, with very wide nostrils. It merged with the full cheeks, which contained cheek pouches, and where she had a habit of hiding food in a monkey fashion. Like anthropoid legs, her feet were also capable of grasping, and her hands were so flexible that they bent almost to the wrist. The thumb was also bent all the way back, while on the other four the upper phalanges could be bent individually.

The prognathism was very faint, and the beautiful round black eyes were very large and perfectly horizontal. Consequently, the overall impression was far from unpleasant and did not in the least resemble the ape-like appearance that is present in many Negritos, and especially in the Javanese "Ardi". But here it should be mentioned that, according to the stories, as a child, her lips protruded so far forward that it gave her a look that was completely like a chimpanzee."

She was noticed to pull her lips forward when she thought she was being bullied.

Keane paid particular attention to the nature of the hairline. Her head was decorated with thick, very black and somewhat coarse hair, similar to the hair of the Mongoloid peoples. They reached bushy eyebrows. The rest of the body was covered with soft black hair. Under them was dark, olive-colored skin. Keene believed that Krao could represent a separate race of people, preserved among the population of a completely different race.

Krao among people

Farini, who acquired the child, was very kind to him. Krao became attached to him, called him "Dad", and Professor Shelley "Uncle".


Farini had a little monkey with whom Krao played on equal terms. “Daddy” did not allow her to keep ordinary food, meat or fish behind her cheeks, but he did allow her to keep nuts or sweets there.

Some scientists came and played with her, evaluating her natural capabilities. They noted that although these games were like puppy fussing, they were not left with the understanding that they were truly human. They tried to understand if this creation was a random deviation, a game of human nature, similar to what they knew before - the hairy Julia Pastrana and others.

Or is this child a member of an unknown hairy race of ape-like ancestors of people who still live in Siam, but are rarely seen by travelers?

Many naturalists attached exceptional scientific importance to Krao. If not the "missing link", then evidence of the existence among the Mongoloid hairless (on the body) peoples of hairy people with large round eyes that are unlike them has been obtained. Karl Bock also pointed out that in the same area where Krao and his parents were found, other similar hairy people were caught, who appeared at the Royal Court of Burma.


Krao possessed the abilities of an ordinary human child. After just 10 weeks in London, she learned a few English words, which she used with understanding. She had difficulty in pronouncing the R and L sounds, which is common for children. But she quickly progressed in communication.

Professor Shelley saw Krao also ten years after her arrival in England. He noted the changes that have happened to the girl over the years. She showed good intellectual abilities, learned English and German, could read and write, expressed a truly feminine love for beautiful clothes.

She was characterized by modesty, sensitivity and playfulness, she was obedient. Shelley found in her appearance that the shape of her head mirrors that of an orangutan. Her freestanding teeth were like those of a chimpanzee.

Krao in America

After the shows in London, Krao's further life was marked by exceptional events for her. She was taken on tour to continental Europe and America. She traveled to New York and Philadelphia, circus arenas in other cities, demonstrating to the public what she wanted from her.


Krao signed cards, lifted a handkerchief off the floor with her foot, showed her teeth, which were different from human teeth, hid nuts by her cheek and talked about her life in the jungle.

She said that the inhabitants of her tribe had speech, their language had about 500 words. However, she behaved very dignified.

Soon, Krao, who took the surname Farini, settled in America so much that she was able to permanently settle in Brooklyn and earn her own money, speaking in numerous New York museums. She was the star of one of the American circuses for the rest of her life.

Krao became friends with a German couple of Zeilers and conducted conversations with them in German. She developed a hobby - a violin, on which she played folk melodies without notes. Krao also loved reading. She took to the streets of New York in a thick long veil. She was offered to marry, but she refused.

Krao died of a cold in 1926 at the age of about 50 and was buried in the Saint Michel cemetery in Astoria.

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