In 1935, the biologist
Dr. W. Franklin Dove
attempted to create single horned mammals. He knew that the
are only attached to the skin
for the first week of life,
after which they affix themselves to the skull
. He tried various experiments; the most
well-known produced a bull
with a single horn
. It is recorded that this bull
intimidated the others in the herd
, with obvious reason -- a head butt
ing match would
likely prove lethal
to the contender. The procedure was actually fairly simple,
since the surgery
was restricted to the layers of the skin.
Otter (now Oberon) and Morning Glory Zell of the Church of All Worlds came
across this information in the late 1970s. They looked at ancient
depictions of the unicorn and noted that the earliest ones had
goat-like features. They decided that the unicorn did in fact exist,
produced by a now-lost process and possibly used for protecting flocks.
They figured it would be a powerful magical symbol, feeling that people would
think: "If a unicorn exists, why then anything is possible. I can even
change my own life."
The operation, involving cutting flaps in the skin and moving the horns towards the center,
was performed on various breeds of white goats. The unicorns produced
particularly resembled a sort depicted in medieval
paintings and tapestries as sitting on the
laps of young maidens. Lancelot, the most well known,
came from Angora stock.
where then taken on tours of various Renaissance Festivals. Children
could get pictures with the unicorns, and a calendar was published.
Of course, the Zell's fellow Pagans held various opinions. Many
embraced the unicorns Lancelot, Bedevere, and a few others. Some felt
that making the unicorn "real" destroyed all that the unicorn
as myth had. Others felt it unethical to perform the minor operation on an animal.
In 1984, the Zells would sign an agreement with Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.
They bought four of the unicorns, paying $150,000 for them as well as three years of silence from the
Zells. Unfortunately, after all of the associated debts and service personnel were paid, over two-thirds had already
been spent. The circus claimed that there was a single unicorn that had appeared in Texas. Feeling that
any publicity was good publicity, they spread stories involving animal abuse, causing animal rights groups including
the ASPCA to protest. Of course, even when asked point-blank they refused to tell the truth about the unicorns.
Using the money, the Zells started the Ecosophical Research Association, dedicated to the study
of archetypes and particularly cryptozoology. Their next adventure would, according to Margot Adler,
be vastly less successful.
There are two pictures online of Lancelot, the first Living Unicorn. One is at
http://www.unicorncollector.com/calendars.htm, from the calendar. Another shows him with Oberon Ravenheart-Zell at http://www.lair2000.net/Unicorn_Dreams/Unicorns_Man_Made/lancelot3.jpg. (Thanks to CzarKhan for the update on the original link and Wuukiee for the second link.)