Wild Men of Borneo

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For The Wild Man of Borneo, see Oofty Goofty.
Waino and Plutanor, the "Wild Men of Borneo" (late 1870s).jpg
Waino and Plutano circa 1870s

The Wild Men of Borneo, Waino and Plutanor, were a pair of exceptionally strong dwarf brothers who were most famously associated with P. T. Barnum and his freak show exhibitions.


Waino and Plutanor were actually Hiram and Barney Davis, two mentally disabled brothers from a Mount Vernon, Ohio farm, born in 1825 and 1827 respectively. They were each 40 inches tall and weighed about 45 pounds, yet could perform feats of great strength such as lifting heavy weights and wrestling with audience members on stage. Discovered and subsequently promoted by a traveling showman in 1850, Hiram and Barney were given new names, Waino and Plutanor, and a sensational back story - they were said to be from the island of Borneo, where they had been captured after a great struggle with armed sailors.

In 1880, Waino and Plutanor became involved with P. T. Barnum and his traveling exhibitions. With Barnum's fabled promotional skill, the careers of the Wild Men of Borneo took off and over the course of the next 25 years, the pair earned approximately $200,000, which was an enormous sum in that era. Their exhibitions primarily consisted of performing acts of great strength, such as lifting adult audience members and wrestling with both audience members and each other. They were said to be able to lift up to 300 lbs each.

Barney stopped working when Hiram died in 1905. Barney died seven years later in 1912. The two are buried together in Mount Vernon, Ohio, under a gravestone marked "Little Men."