Of the habits of these animals in a state of nature we know but little. They inhabit the flat parts near the Cape of Good Hope, the common Zebra being confined to the mountains. All the attempts that have been made to domesticate either the one or the other, and to render them serviceable, have hitherto failed; but there seems no good reason why they should not, with proper management, be brought as completely under subjection as the other species of the genus. The subject of the present article, which has now been about two years in the Menagerie, will suffer a boy to ride her about the yard, and is frequently allowed to run loose through the Tower, with a man by her side, whom she does not attempt to quit except to run to the Canteen, where she is occasionally indulged with a draught of ale, of which she is particularly fond.
In captivity, however, especially if taken while yet young, his character frequently undergoes a change as favourable as that which takes place under the same circumstances in the generality of his tribe. The pair at present in the Tower are male and female; they are both Asiatic, and are confined in the same den, but they differ very materially in temper and disposition. The female, which is the older of the two, and has been a resident in the Menagerie for upwards of four years, is exceedingly tame, suffering herself to be patted and caressed by the keeper, and licking his hands. Strangers, however, especially ladies, should be cautious of approaching her too familiarly, as she has always evinced a particular predilection for the destruction of umbrellas, parasols, muffs, hats, and such other articles of dress as may happen to come within her reach, seizing them with the greatest quickness and tearing them into pieces almost before the astonished visiter has become aware of the loss. To so great an extent has she carried this peculiar taste that Mr. Cops declares that he has no doubt that during her residence in the Tower she has made prey of at least as many of these articles as there are days in the year. The agility with which she bounds round her cell, which is of considerable size, touching at one leap, and almost with the velocity of thought, each of its four walls, and skimming along the ceiling with the same rapidity of action, which is scarcely to be followed by the eye, is truly wonderful, and speaks more forcibly of the muscular power and flexibility of limb by which such extraordinary motions are executed than language can express.
These are two males and one female, belonging to the most elegant as well as the most intelligent variety of the species, that to which Linn?us, on account of the high degree to which the latter quality was carried in them, gave par excellence the epithet of sagax. They were presented by Major, now Colonel Denham, on his return from the most successful expedition that has perhaps ever been made into the evil-omened regions of Central Africa, from whence they were brought by that gallant traveller, who also gave Mr. Cops the following account of their qualifications for the chase. He had repeatedly, he said, made use of them in hunting the Gazelle, in their pursuit of which he had observed that they displayed more cunning and sagacity than any dogs with which he was acquainted, frequently quitting the line of scent for the purpose of cutting off a double, and recovering it again with the greatest facility. They would follow a scent after an hour and a half or even two hours had elapsed; and the breed was therefore commonly employed in Africa for the purpose of tracing a flying enemy to his retreat. They are in fact, both for symmetry and action, perfect models; and there are few sportsmen who will not regret that there appears no chance of crossing our own pointers with this interesting breed. A mixed race, combining the qualifications of both, would unquestionably be one of the most valuable acquisitions to our sporting stock; but, unhappily, this union seems to be altogether hopeless; for although they have now been more than three years in England, and are in excellent health and condition, they appear, like many other animals restrained of their liberty and kept constantly together, to have no disposition to perpetuate their race. The males are remarkably good tempered; the female on the contrary is surly and ill natured.
The mother and her whelps are admirably represented in the spirited group of portraits which heads the present article. The latter have all the playfulness of kittens, and are fondled by their dam in a similar manner to that in which the domestic cat caresses her young. While they were small enough she carried them from place to place in her mouth, and showed the greatest solicitude to keep them from the view of strangers; and even now that they are grown too large for this mode of treatment, she continues to pay the strictest attention to the cleanliness of their persons, and licks their fur, as they tumble about her, with all the matronly dignity and gravity of an accomplished nurse.