Shunka Warak’in, 1910?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 25th, 2009

Delphos, O., July 31. – Considerable excitement was created here yesterday when Isaac Good, who lives on the Noah Miller farm in Marion township, about a mile east of Delphos, came into town and reported that he had seen in the Pohlman woods, near the W. C. Baxter farm, between 8 and 9 a.m., a strange looking wild animal that had all the appearance of being a hyena.

Mr. Good first saw the animal in the woods. It was sitting back on its haunches and licking its front paws much in the same manner as a cat or dog would. Mr. Good was quite near the animal before he saw it, or before it saw him. After starting at him for a few moments, Mr. Good says[,] the animal ran rapidly toward a cornfield and disappeared. His description of the strange beast left no doubt that it was a wild animal, that it was a hyena. Mr. Good remained about the vicinity for some time, hoping to get another glimpse of the animal, but was unable to do so.

He was on his way to Delphos to work, but after seeing the strange intruder in the woods, he gave up the idea of work for the day, and came to Delphos and endeavored to organize a number of armed men and procure dogs to chase the animal down. No reports had previously been heard concerning such an animal being seen in this part of the country, but Mr. Good’s word is not doubted.

The animal may have escaped from a circus.“Hyena in Woods Near to Delphos; The Beast Is Thought to Be One That Escaped from Show – Yet at Large,” Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, August 3, 1910.

Thanks for this historical item from Jerome Clark.

Circus escapee is the standard folk explanation for reports of extraordinary or out-of-place animals. — J. Clark.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

4 Responses to “Shunka Warak’in, 1910?”

  1. kittenz responds:

    The important phrase in this article is “No reports had previously been heard concerning such an animal being seen in this part of the country”.

    These people were farmers and lived close to the land. Then, much more than now, rural people supplemented their diets with game and wild plants. They would have been very familiar with the native wildlife of their area, and would have recognized a native animal, even a rare one. If this was indeed a hyena, it was an escaped captive.

    Traveling circuses, large and small, were very common at the turn of the last century, and all of them had menageries. There were also nomadic families who traveled with small menageries. In that age before television, circuses were extremely popular entertainment. Traveling methods and animal confinement facilities were primitive compared to today’s, and laws regulating the ownership and interstate transport of animals were practically nonexistent. Animal escapes probably occurred with some frequency.

    Striped hyenas were fairly common in menageries during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most of them came from India. That was a time when colonial expansion made a wide range of exotic animals available to circuses and zoos in the Western world. It was the heydey of the “bring ’em back alive” era. In some social circles it was considered chic to have exotic “pets” or private menageries. That was common in England; not so much here. But if a local person had had a menagerie or even a pet hyena, a local farmer would have known about it.

    That was a time when traveling shows that featured wild animals were commonplace, and wild animal pets were also very popular.

    If an animal escaped from a traveling show, the owners would probably have tried to recapture it without involving local people. There’s no way to know for sure, but I’d guess that many escapes occurred and that most of the time the animals were recaptured without incident. (A local person reports seeing a strange animal. The animal’s owner hears of it & goes out with food. After a couple of days on its own the animal is all too glad to have some food & allows itself to be recaptured. But in the meantime the tale of its sighting becomes a local legend).

    Of course, that doesn’t explain all of the out-of-place animal sightings. But I’d bet that scenario has happened many, many times over the years.

  2. tropicalwolf responds:

    Okay Loren…

    After sasquatch, phantom cats, and phantom kangaroos, this cryptid is QUICKLY becoming one of my favorites…

  3. dogu4 responds:

    I think Kittenz suggestions and historical perspective are pretty relevant…and they sound all the more believable after having read Sara Gruen’s book “Water for Elephants” which takes place during the days when lots of circuses were on the rails and crisscrossing america…sometimes, often enough, under circustances which would raise an eyebrow or two and says alot about the colorful culture that it sustained…and a marvelous story to boot…soon to be a major motion picture n stuff.

  4. HOOSIERHUNTER responds:

    Okay Here’s a thought Loren:

    As you know the “creature flap” that occured near Richmond Indiana in 1948 included the report of a “hyena-like” creature seen on a road the year before. It was described as a “strange vicious-looking thing”. Richmond is only about 50 miles from Delphos. Do you suppose there might be a tie-in between the Shunka Warak’in and the animal seen on that Indiana road years later? Perhaps there is, or was, a small surviving remnant of these creatures?

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