Notwithstanding the brutal voracity of his habits and the savage fierceness of his disposition, there is scarcely any animal that submits with greater facility to the control of man. In captivity, especially when taken young, a circumstance on which much depends in the domestication of all wild animals, he is capable of being rendered exceedingly tame, and even serviceable. In some parts of Southern Africa the spotted species, which is by nature quite as ferocious in his temper as the striped inhabitant of the North, has been domiciliated in the houses of the peasantry, among whom he is preferred to the dog himself for attachment to his master, for general sagacity, and even, it is said, for his qualifications for the chase. That the Striped Hy?na might be rendered equally useful is highly probable from the docility and attachment which he manifests towards his keepers, especially when allowed a certain degree of liberty, which he shows no disposition to abuse. If more closely restricted his savage nature sometimes returns upon him; and it is for this reason that those which are carried about the country from fair to fair, pent up in close caravans, frequently become surly and even dangerous. The individual whose portrait we give is, on the contrary, remarkably tame; he is a native of the East Indies, and is confined in the same den with one of the American Bears, as we shall have occasion to notice more particularly when speaking of the latter animal.
THE BARBARY LIONESS.
Hystrix Cristata. Linn.
Almost in the same degree that the Lion has been exalted and magnified, at the expense of his fellow brutes, has the Tiger been degraded and depressed below his just and natural level. While the one has been held up to admiration, as the type and standard of heroic perfection, the other has, with equal capriciousness of judgment and disregard of the close and intimate relationship subsisting between them, been looked upon by mankind in general with those feelings of unmingled horror and detestation which his character for untameable ferocity and insatiable thirst of blood was so well calculated to inspire. It requires, however, but little consideration to teach us that the broad distinction, which has thus been drawn, cannot by possibility exist; and the recorded observations of naturalists and travellers, both at home and abroad, will be found amply sufficient to prove that the difference in their characters and habits, on which so much stress has been laid, is in reality as slight and unessential as that which exists in their corporeal structure.
With regard to their sagacity much has been written, and many exaggerated and many incredible stories have been told; but it would appear that those who have attributed to the Elephant a degree of intelligence superior to every other beast, have been misled by outward appearances, and by the natural prepossession arising from his gigantic and imposing figure. Without his trunk, upon the singular and admirable structure of which most of that skill and dexterity which have been regarded as the result of mental reflection is entirely dependent, he would be, in all probability, as very a brute as the rhinoceros, the hippopotamus, or the hog. By means of that organ, however, he unquestionably acquires the capacity of performing feats of which other animals are incapable; but here his superiority ends. In intelligence, as in docility, he is far inferior to the dog; and many other quadrupeds might fairly compete with him in both. Thus to turn a key in a lock, to push back a bolt, to untie a rope, to uncork a bottle, to search in the pockets of his keepers for apples or oranges, these and many other tricks of a similar kind, for which he is famous, are evidently nothing more than mechanical actions, to the performance of which he is stimulated, like other beasts, at first by the promise of reward or the fear of chastisement, and afterwards by the mere force of habit. In like manner the dexterity with which he learns to load and unload himself, or to place a man or child upon his back by means of his trunk, without offering them the slightest injury; and on the other hand the precision with which he is made to execute the will of the Asiatic despot on the unhappy victims of his displeasure, by seizing them and casting them beneath his feet, to be there dispatched, according to the tenor of the orders which he receives, either with a single crush, or with all the horrors of a lingering death; these also are actions of no higher order than many other animals are equally capable of in a moral point of view, although not so well fitted for them by physical conformation.
It is not without much hesitation that we have adopted for this animal the generic name of Canis, and referred it, in conformity with the example of most of the leading zoologists of the day, to the same group with the Wolf, the Jackal, and the Fox; from all of which it differs in such important particulars as fully entitle it, in our estimation, to the rank of a distinct and separate genus. To this rank it has, indeed, been already raised by Mr. Brookes, under the generic appellation of Lycaon; but as we are not aware that it has been any where described under that name, or that any detailed account has been given of the characters on which that separation is founded, we cannot consider ourselves authorized in a work of this nature to make any innovations upon science, however much we may feel, as in the present instance, that they are called for by the exigency of the case. That its position is at least doubtful is proved by the fact that M. Temminck, one of the ablest of the continental zoologists, first described it from the living animal under the designation of a Hy?na, and, having subsequently changed his opinion, is now disposed to regard it as a species of dog.下载
The foregoing description of the horns, it should be observed, is taken from those of the year before last, which were of the genuine or normal form. Those of the last year, which are represented in the cut prefixed, were from some cause or other remarkably different, that of the right side especially exhibiting a singular monstrosity in the production of additional branches of irregular form. Whether this was the effect of disease or of advancing age, or whether it arose solely from some temporary and accidental cause, will probably be determined by the growth of the present year, which is not yet sufficiently advanced to enable us to ascertain its probable form.下载
It may readily be supposed that the taming of these wild and unwieldy creatures is a task of no little difficulty and delicacy: but the experienced keepers by whom it is undertaken seldom fail to execute it with success. It is effected partly by reducing the strength of the animal by restricting him in the quantity of his food, by the employment of caresses or of castigation according to the dispositions he may manifest, by occasionally indulging him in sweetmeats or in other dainty fare, and by subjecting him to the control of the tame elephants, and especially of the females, which are more commonly employed for this purpose. By the application of these means the space of a fortnight is generally sufficient to reduce him to a certain degree of tameness, and in less than six months he is trained to the various exercises which it is intended that he should perform, and his education is regarded as complete. They do not, however, always become familiar and habituated to their new mode of life even within this period of time; for, according to the statement of Mr. Corse, Elephants have been known to stand twelve months at their pickets without lying down to sleep; and this is regarded as a certain sign of want of confidence in their keepers and of a longing desire to regain their liberty. It is probably to some such circumstance as this that we are indebted for the erroneous idea so generally prevalent that these animals always sleep standing; whereas the truth is, that when perfectly at ease and reconciled to their fate, they lie down on their sides and sleep like other beasts.
Like the other animals of its group, its habits are predatory; in confinement it retains much of its original ferocity, and is extremely spiteful and savage. The two individuals from which our figure was taken have inhabited the Menagerie for nearly twelve months; they are both males, and occupy different dens. They are fed, like the preceding, and indeed like all the carnivorous quadrupeds which it remains to mention, on a mixture of vegetable and animal food; and deposit large quantities of civet, which strongly impregnates the air of the apartment in which they are kept. This perfume is highly esteemed by the Javanese, who apply it not only to their dresses, but also to their persons. Even the apartments and furniture of the natives of rank are generally scented with it to such a degree as to be offensive to Europeans.