"THE TALKING AND PERFORMING FISH will arrive at 191 Piccadilly, early in May. Complimentary cards to naturalists and gentlemen of the press will be issued for private performances three days before public exhibition."
Later, in July of that year:
"THE TALKING AND PERFORMING FISH is still exhibiting at 191, Piccadilly, admission 1s. daily. Children half price."
Unfortunately, not every act lived up to its advertisements:
"The first glance at the living wonder dispelled all our hopes of something new. No scaly, leaden-eyed, cold-blooded fish lay basking in the huge tub which we found placed in the centre of the exhibition-room; but, instead, a beautiful seal, in the finest possible health, raised its intelligent head to meet our disappointed gaze. ... Seals are very readily domesticated; and, as our present subject has been a sort of pet since 1854, she has been taught to go through a series of rude tricks, dignified by the title of "performance." Jenny - for this is the name given her by her keeper - at the word of command, closing her hand-like fins to her side, began to roll round and round in the water like a leg of mutton on a roasting jack ... Another series of revolutions in the tub, she raised herself on to its edge, and, stretching out her long wet body a considerable distance forward, placed her cold wet nose against her master's face, by way of showing "how to give a kiss." So much for the performing; now for the talking. Understanding the orders given, she uttered what I believe to be her natural cry, and which, when the spectator is told means "mamma" or "papa" is certainly very like those infantile words. The papers stated she could "call John" but she did not get further than "mamma" or "papa," nor, indeed, is she ever likely to made to improve upon her own natural language, which, luckily for the proprietor, may be said to resemble our own, as regards these two simple words. A good parrot, magpie or starling would beat the "fish" hollow at talking."
I would if Jenny read her reviews? Occasionally, however, the boot was on the other fin. Here's a description of the 'Beckwith Frogs', the family who 'lived underwater' for the amusement of the public (Penny Illustrated Paper, 1869):
It may be added, for the benefit of those who many wish to witness the performances of the "Beckwith Frogs" at an earlier hour than eleven that on Saturday afternoons there is a children festival at Cremorne, when all the amusements of the gardens may be enjoyed at a reduced rate. Another opportunity of seeing these marine acrobats at a convenient time will be offered on Monday evening, the 28th inst., when they are to appear at an aquatic entertainment to be given by Professor Beckwith at the Lambeth Swimming-Bath. Champion swimmer of England for several years, the Professor is, necessarily, sadly, also a famous Performer in the water; and the natatory skill of himself and family, together with the keen racing which his prizes always call forth, causes his swimming fetes to be deservedly popular."