In the old days, concepts like safety, animal rights and sanity weren't as well-defined as they are now. And while there's no question that we treat animals better today than we did a few decades ago, sometimes what's good for the animals is bad for the field of insanely badass photography.
So, we'll just have to fill that void with old-timey photos like these.
Gus Waldorf / Life
"And in the red corner ... oh God, ALL of the blood. Oh God."
Allow us to introduce the fighters of this 1949 bout: In the blue corner, Gus Waldorf, a boxer so distinguished that this picture is literally all he's known for. In the red corner, a goddamn bear.
Since they followed boxing protocol as opposed to the bear's preferred combat style of straight up mauling everyone, its teeth and claws were restricted with a muzzle and boxing gloves. And even though the bear went into the ring severely handicapped, Waldorf still lost the fight due to his handicap of not being a bear.
Gus Waldorf / Life
Also the bear was a southpaw, which put him right off his game.
This was not an isolated incident, by the way -- bear-fighting was apparently all the rage back in the day. Here's an Iranian man wrestling a bear in 1951, this time without any of that silly safety equipment.
Dmitri Kessel / Time
Bear knuckle fighting.
Which ended about as well for the guy as you'd expect:
Dmitri Kessel / Time
The inevitable grizzly outcome. Sorry.
We're not sure whether he's suffering the agony of defeat or engaging in some post-fight makeup humping here. The best part is how the guy in the hat registers zero emotion on his face as a bear and fellow human duke it out right in front of him. They might as well be pee-soaked panhandlers as far as Indiana Bored is concerned.
Wallace Kirkland / Time
"What is that? Bud? Tastes like piss. Believe me, I know what piss tastes like."
Modern zoos keep animals on strictly controlled diets specifically planned to meet their particular nourishment needs. This is a vast improvement over the 1954 approach of "Dang, all we have left in the fridge is beer and pie and mmmhmm, that pie looks tasty."
Which is why that is, in fact, an official St. Louis Zoo worker offering his gorilla ward a cold one, presumably while his coworkers stand in the background chanting "Chug! Chug! Chug!" The animal in question is Phil the Gorilla, who was famous for his size, showmanship and DUI record. His fratboy persona in this picture is so spot on we're tempted to write Old School II just to cast him. Right after we invent that time machine.
Five minutes later, the deer bursts into tears and confides the story of when Mom never came back.
First things first: Yes, that's a photo of Audrey Hepburn and Anthony "Psycho" Perkins boozing it up with a deer. The deer's name is Pippin.
We suppose it kind of makes sense that Hepburn, being the closest equivalent humanity has to a real-world Manic Pixie Dream Girl, would have had a deer as a pet. But Pippin the deer was far more than just a random pen-kept part of a celebrity petting zoo -- Hepburn lived with it, slept in the same bed with it and, apparently, got shitfaced with it.
Pippin and Hepburn met when it was set to appear in one of Hepburn's movies. She was tasked with spending some time with the deer so it would become comfortable around her. So, like any good actress working with a first-timer, Hepburn took the newcomer under her wing and introduced Pippin to the Hollywood lifestyle.
And judging from that photo, she did such a great job of it that we're pretty sure everyone in that party woke up naked in the same apartment, with a hangover big enough to kill a deity.
"Wha ... what's that? Can I have that? That'll only make you fat. I can have that."
And then they went shopping and all was well again.
Folb / Life
One swing and we can find out how quickly evolution can make that baby fly.
Kids tend to picture the circus as a place of whimsy and wonder, as anyone who threatened to run away and join one as a child can tell you. That's because kids are idiots. Of course, in reality it is a job like any other, but only because it involves more shit-shoveling and carny talk than your average numbers-crunching cubicle job.
It's also pretty much a round-the-clock job, so a parent working the circus scene wouldn't always have spare time to spend with their kids. And that's when things got awesome for the children of olden times. Why waste money on a babysitter when you can have a coworker look after your child for you? One you can trust because you've trained her yourself?
And that, friends, is how we ended up with the above picture of an elephant named Kam calmly pushing his trainer's daughter around a London train station, no doubt to the delight of other passengers. We're not sure if the trainer was crazy good or just negligent as hell here, but we'd like to think he also taught Kam how to change the baby's diaper and give her a bath.
Or, at the very least, that game where you throw your baby up in the air and then catch her.
Man, we know it's wrong, but we kind of want to see a picture of that now.
Yep, that's a big-ass gun mounted on a camel.
The Indian Army has a rich history of using camels in warfare, up to the point that when other countries' armies started throwing around big words such as "modernization" and "practicality," India just calmly took all the new technology and strapped them on their damn camels.
No matter how impractical that contraption is, you've got to give some props to that guy. Sure, his camel is likely to bolt the second he fires that thing, and sure, that's going to be the least of his worries once he's searching for his balls that the recoil sent flying farther than the actual mortar ever could -- but right now he's on top of the world, riding a goddamn armed camel.
And, of course, there was no reason to stop at a mere rifle. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Camel Cannon:
If those trousers were any tighter, we could see what caliber he has.
Because there's no kill like overkill. Practical? No. Awesome? Hell yes. And judging by the smug look on that camel's face, he damn well knows it. He's the Dromedary of Death now, and you will all bow to him. Or else.