If at first you don’t succeed … you might not want to pet the hyena

Don’t we all love the circus?

The circus has something for everyone. Rides, funnel cakes, clowns (maybe not clowns), acrobats and wild animals are just some of the treasures located in and around the big top.

You probably couldn’t blame one Bulloch County man, though, if he never went to a circus again.

The Bulloch Times and Statesboro News from December 8, 1927, tell quite a tale of his unfortunate experience with a hyena when a traveling show came through the town of Register.

1927-12-08 Bulloch Times (hyena attack)

Bulloch Times and Statesboro Herald, Dec. 8, 1927

“According to reports received here Monday afternoon when [Millard] Cowart came to Statesboro in search of surgical treatment, he had visited the circus and recklessly placed his hand in reach of the hyena in its cage. Quicker than thought, the animal seized hold and bit the hand, though the injuries were only slight.”

Mr. Cowart, however, was determined to conquer the animal’s trust, or perhaps he had a score to settle. He went back to the circus, back to the hyena cage.

“When he extended the other hand, the animal met him in the same spirit of cordiality with which he had met him at first and seized his hand in its mouth. When it turned loose, Cowart’s hand was practically in shreds. It is understood that the surgeons expressed some doubt as to the possibility of saving the hand from amputation.”

The Statesboro Times pointed out at the end of the article that Cowart was a family man.

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