B Stett

(Investigator 17, 1991 March)

Would you believe a news report about a trapeze-performing orang-utan who eats a circus clown? How about cannibals who "switch to skinny people to avoid cholesterol"? Or a "Spacecraft [that] Takes Photos of Heaven?"

Tabloids originally were small newspapers of page size about 30cm by 40cm.

Nowadays the word "tabloid" is associated with sensational, weird, implausible – even made up – news reports.

When fake news is mixed with genuine reports some readers may be unable to distinguish the true from the false. Many of poor education will then have superimposed on their poor education mis-education.


June 29 – A Moscow Circus Orangutan peeled and ate a midget clown who was dressed as a banana during yesterday's performance.

Ivan Petrov’s yells of protest mingled with screams of horror from the audience when the Orangutan, evidently mistaking him for real fruit, began biting pieces off.

After 5 minutes all that remained of Mr Petrov was a messy pool of blood on the floor of the circus ring.

Only 30 minutes earlier the Orangutan, named Olga, had thrilled the audience with a new stunt and a world first – a quadruple somersault on the trapeze.

It is believed that Olga's trainer celebrated Olga’s success immediately after her performance by sharing a bottle of vodka with her.

Both were intoxicated when Olga locked her trainer in the cage and returned to the show where Mr Petrov and 43 other clowns were doing their hilarious, world famous, "Baking a Fruitcake" routine, using human "fruit".

That's when Olga mistook Mr Petrov for a real banana – her favourite food – scattered the other fruit around like bowling pins, paused to take a bite from a "raisin", and then peeled Petrov’s costume off.

"The show must go on," shouted Mr Petrov in Russian just before his wife fainted when Olga began nibbling his extremities.

The Commissioner of Police wants the RSPCA to destroy Olga but is opposed by the Animal Rights Association whose representative puts the full blame for the tragedy on the trainer who had allegedly strengthened the vodka by mixing it with unleaded petrol.

Mrs Petrov said today: "Olga is a good monkey and has not eaten anyone before in Australia. Her act is not replaceable and to shoot her would be bad for the circus."

The District Coroner has arranged to have Olga's droppings collected for an inquest.

The Circus Commissar has cancelled performances for today but record crowds are expected tomorrow.

Melbourne midget John Harrison has been hired to replace Ivan Petrov on a temporary basis.

To avoid further mishap he'll be appearing as an apple instead of as a banana.

The circus doctor has placed the deeply upset Mrs Petrov on tranquilisers but it's expected she'll be back on her three jobs by Tuesday.

Mrs Petrov works in the sideshows as a two-headed lady, a fortune teller (left head), and a bearded lady (right head).

The Moscow Circus is performing in Melbourne until July 8. It will then go to the other state capitals starting with Adelaide.


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