Carrier Under The Big Top
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus traces its roots back to the famed 19th century promoter P.T. Barnum, James Bailey and the six Ringling Brothers. In 1907 the three circuses merged to become known as, "The Greatest Show on Earth." The stunning performances in the three-ring circus no doubt contribute to this claim, as "The Greatest Show on Earth" makes its way by train every year across the U.S., and even exports some of its more incredible acts overseas. The barker's call, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Children Of All Ages," has perhaps become as famous as "the circus" itself.
In the early 1940s, circus promoters pulled off one of their greatest coups, the worldwide tour of "Gargantua the Great." Gargantua's illustrious circus career began at age eight, when the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus purchased the fully-grown, lowland gorilla. He was made into the greatest of attractions through an incredible publicity campaign that resulted in the term "Gargantuan" entering the vernacular and becoming a household name.
This also marked the first time that a gorilla had traveled so extensively and survived. Despite their size and phenomenal strength, all gorillas are susceptible to chills, colds and pneumonia. Sudden changes in climate and exposure to air-borne infection are fatal to them. Due to the environmental controls in his cage, Gargantua was able to travel cross-country and even across the ocean to England without catching so much as a cold.
To help maintain the exact temperature and humidity of Gargantua's native surroundings, the Ringling Brothers consulted Carrier. Carrier provided air conditioning systems for Gargantua's enormous moving cage. The cage wagon was 26 1/2 -ft. long and had thick glass panels outside the steel bars. Thermostatic controls maintained temperature at 76 degrees F and held humidity at 50 percent.
In a 1941 publicity stunt, a "marriage ceremony" took place as Gargantua took a female gorilla named Mitoto as his wife. Called "Toto" for short, Mitoto became known as simply "Mrs. Gargantua." Mrs. Gargantua was also provided with a cage similar to Gargantua's, also air conditioned by Carrier. While touring, circus personnel would place Gargantua and Mrs. Gargantua's cages across from each other so that they could watch each other and become accustomed to the other's presence.