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Narratively
23 mins | May 13, 2020

Smokin’ Cy DeVry was the original Tiger King

He was Chicago's beloved Zookeeper, and the star one of the most unpredictable tales you will ever hear. In this remarkable piece for Narratively, Tony Ho Tran tells us the story of how a cigar-chomping, bear-wrestling bricklayer became the unlikeliest celebrity-influencer of the early 20th century... and changed zookeeping forever. "Always sporting an impressive mustache and a tiger-tooth watch fob, DeVry was well known throughout the city for his eccentricity and steadfast devotion to his animals. But now, any semblance of that caring man seemed to have disappeared. Instead, the officers and onlookers watched DeVry coil with fury, then pounce like a lion upon the hapless quarry who had dared encroach upon his home. As the onlookers gawked and the police officers attempted to separate the two men, no one could have predicted that the scuffle would set off a course of actions that would ultimately lead to arrest, scandal, public uproar, and the controversial firing of the city’s beloved zookeeper. But with Cy DeVry, everything was dramatic."

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