Born in 1834 in Mexico, Pastrana was born with hypertrichosis terminalis, a deformity that caused the development of an oversized jaw, excess facial hair growth, her ears and nose were unusually large, and her teeth were irregular.
She would become known as the “Ape Woman”, the “Bear Woman”, and even the “Ugliest Woman in the World.”
Though she married the man who once bought her, Theodore Lent (aka Lewis B Lent), her life was spent as a freak show or carnival sideshows attraction. She and Lent conceived a child, but while on tour in Moscow in 1860, five days after giving birth to a baby with features similar to hers, Pastrana died. The child had died two days prior. Pastrana’s body, as well as the child’s, were mummified and displayed in a glass cabinet until the end of the carnival’s tour.
Following Pastrana’s death, Lent went on to find a woman with features similar to Pastrana. He married the new woman and named her Zenora Pastrana. He became a wealthy man using Zenora as an attraction. He was eventually committed to a Russian mental institution in 1884, where he died and the bodies of both the first Pastrana and her child were lost for many years.
In 1921, after the remains were rediscovered, a Norwegian carnival owner purchased their remains, but they were removed from view in the 1970s. In 1976, the child’s remains were mutilated and eaten by mice after vandals broke into the warehouse where the remains were kept. Pastrana’s mummy was then stolen in 1979, but recovered and held in Oslo’s Forensic Institute but not identified. Finally, in 1990, she was identified as the famous “Ape Woman”.
In 1994, the Norway Senate recommended burying her remains, but the Minister of Sciences decided to keep them so scientists could perform research.
On August 2nd, 2012 it was reported that she would finally be buried in Mexico. On Tuesday, more 150 years after her death, Julia Pastrana, was finally laid to rest in her birth place, Sinaloa, Mexico.