Mexican 'Ape Woman' Buried After 150 Years

Category: Media & Culture / Feb 13, 2013 10:24AM EDT
The body of an indigenous Mexican woman who traveled through Europe as part of a circus freak show due to a rare genetic condition that covered her body with thick hair returned home for burial on Tuesday (February 12) more than 150 years after her death. At a church ceremony in the small town of Sinaloa de Leyva, residents turned out to pay their final respects to Julia Pastrana, a local woman with hypertrichosis, or "werewolf syndrome", and other genetic deformities that saw her become one of Europe's most sought after circus acts. Dubbed "the ape woman" after she joined the circus in 1854, the Mexican woman spent toured Europe where she danced and performed until her death in 1860 in Moscow. Having received no proper burial, Pastrana's mummified remains were purchased by a Norwegian circus in 1921 and were on public display until the early 1970's. Until last week, her body was kept inside a climate-controlled facility operated by the University of Oslo. Instrumental in an international campaign to bring Pastrana's body back home to rest, the Governor of Sinaloa state Mario Lopez Valdez paid tribute to the late performer. "This action was a humanitarian act for a woman who was abandoned there in a storeroom. She was well-known because her talent, which you can read into, extraordinary, she was a dancer, an actress, opera singer," he said. Despite having no known living relatives in the Sinaloa, large crowds converged on a local cemetery in Sinaloa to see off a local legend. In 1964, Pastrana's life was the basis for the director Marco Ferreri's 1964 drama "The Ape Woman", about a hair-covered Italian woman exploited for her appearance and displayed in a museum after her death. (Video Source: Reuters)