9 Old-Timey Animal Photos You Won't Believe Are Real

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.
9 Old-Timey Animal Photos You Won't Believe Are Real

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.

Rocky VII: Rocky Fights a Bear

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.

9 Old-Timey Animal Photos You Won't Believe Are Real
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.

9 Old-Timey Animal Photos You Won't Believe Are Real
Dmitri Kessel / Time

Bear knuckle fighting.

Which ended about as well for the guy as you'd expect:

9 Old-Timey Animal Photos You Won't Believe Are Real
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.

He Was Later Found with a Dick Sharpied on His Forehead

9 Old-Timey Animal Photos You Won't Believe Are Real
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.

A Deer Gets a Taste of the High Life

9 Old-Timey Animal Photos You Won't Believe Are Real
Bob Willoughby

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.

434410 N Orsterries 200 p
Bob Willoughby

"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.

Adventures in Babysitting

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.

Meanwhile, in India ...

Camelphotos.com Gobindram Oodeyram. Jalpur. A Camel with rider and gun. Jalpur.

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.

Hakuna Ma-Murder-a

9 Old-Timey Animal Photos You Won't Believe Are Real
Joseph Scherschel / Life


If you like cats, you'll loooooove lions. At least that's what Mr. Charles Hipp thought when he bought himself a lion cub from the Dallas Zoo in 1953. And apparently the zoo agreed, because they had no problem selling a baby big cat to an oil tycoon turned amateur circus putter-onner. Then again, pregnant women also smoked like chimneys back then, so take the zoo's wisdom with a grain of salt.

Once Hipp got the baby lion home, he did what any man with the balls to buy a pet lion would do: let the beast live in his house and routinely put his family in mortal peril for the sake of taking some sweet-ass photos. The picture above is of his granddaughter (a beastmaster-in-training if we ever saw one), riding a lion like it ain't no thing. When Hipp wasn't busy ensuring his grandkids had the most badass baby pictures in history, he gave the neighborhood children rides:

Joseph Scherschel / Life

Not pictured: Thousands of injury lawyers rubbing their hands.

Or just played with Simba like it was a kitten:

9 Old-Timey Animal Photos You Won't Believe Are Real
Joseph Scherschel / Life

A kitten that, we might add, is chewing a hefty chunk off his ass. That picture alone should have warned Hipp of the troubles to come. Because while this lion was a whole lot of gentle, the leopard he later added to the family was not. But this is a comedy site, so we'll save that story for another day.

No Animal Ever Looked Sadder

9 Old-Timey Animal Photos You Won't Believe Are Real
Bruce Keogh

This is just a wasted opportunity to have a badass footrest.

Hey, past! What would be even more impractical and badass than having a lion as a pet?

What? A domesticated rhino? Come on. Now you're just fucking with us.

That sweet beast is Rupert the Rhino in his South African home. In 1960, Rupert was saved from a flood by a vet who then adopted him, because naturally a mere veterinarian couldn't understand the risks of living with a freaking rhino. Rupert repaid the courtesy by deciding to adapt the Disney stratagem instead of the more natural "gore them all the first chance you get and run to the wild" one. He grew into his pet role well and acted not unlike an overgrown guard dog, only occasionally putting his family in mortal terror and committing property damage.

He also ate a ton of bananas.

Bruce Keogh

And fingers.

Rupert was, however, never fully domesticated, presumably because rhino toilets are about as expensive and impractical as they look, and also because he looks like Eeyore in rhino form. The monthly Zoloft bill was even more expensive than the bananas, so Rupert was eventually released back into the wild.

Still, we think cleaning up a living room full of rhino shit was well worth it for the family, because it enabled them to have a family album full of pictures like this:

9 Old-Timey Animal Photos You Won't Believe Are Real
Bruce Keogh

"Giddy-up, beast!" "Just kill me, already."

The World's Cutest Nazi

Democratic Underground


With the thousands and thousands of pretend Nazis we've seen blown away in movies, comics and video games, it's easy to forget that many of the soldiers on the Axis side were real, regular people who would have preferred to not be fighting a war. So when you see this picture of three Wehrmacht soldiers dicking around in the trenches, looking at a tiny, adorable kitten play with its toy, it sort of gets confusing. Aren't those guys Nazis? The designated bad guys? Why are they playing with a kitten? Hell, one of them is even offering it a flower!

Luckily, the guys seem to be well on their way toward taking care of this dilemma themselves, as it looks like the toy the kitten has been given to bat around is a freaking hand grenade. One errant paw swipe could have turned this scene into the most adorable casualty report in the history of warfare.

Because Purse-Sized Dogs Are for Pussies

9 Old-Timey Animal Photos You Won't Believe Are Real
Hulton-Deutsch Collection / CORBIS

All the other photos taken were blurry and full of flying limbs.

For a while there, celebutants had fun using little teacup-sized dogs as fashion accessories; they'd carry them around in their bags or on their arms, pose with them at publicity events and generally flaunt how great it is to not care that an animal is shitting in your Louis Vuitton purse.

But today's celebrities have NOTHING on flagrantly using animals to get publicity. Because the starlets of yesteryear bought cheetahs. As pets. The picture at the top is actress Phyllis Gordon shopping in 1939 with a cheetah she had flown in from Kenya, presumably so that she could terrify store clerks into giving her discounts.

Our knee-jerk reflex is to write Gordon off as a solitary eccentric, but she was actually far from being the only actress of her era to own a cheetah. The famous Josephine Baker had Chiquita:

9 Old-Timey Animal Photos You Won't Believe Are Real
Getty Images / Hulton Archive

And here Joan Blondell takes the unusually cruel step of color-coordinating with her pet:

9 Old-Timey Animal Photos You Won't Believe Are Real

The leopard version of Buffalo Bill.

We could go on -- cheetahs were basically the go-to pet for famous actresses in those days. If it weren't for the whole animal welfare thing, we almost think it would be pretty awesome to see Paris Hilton try to walk around with one of these on her shoulders.

For more photos that'll put hair on your chest (even you, ladies), check out 7 Images Too Badass To Be Real (That Totally Are) and 10 Photos Capturing Moments of Spontaneous Badassery.

And stop by LinkSTORM to learn the best maneuvers when fighting a bear.

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