London, Volume 5

Knight, Charles
1843

CXVII-The Gardens of the Zoological Society.

CXVII-The Gardens of the Zoological Society.

 

 

If were desired to name the most delightful lounge in the metropolis, difficult as the task of selection might seem to be amidst so many attractive spots, the in the must, we think, be the chosen place. Equally suited to the young and the old, the solitary and the gregarious, the cheerful and the melancholy, the ignorant and the learned, all are here sure of enjoyment at least, and it will be strange indeed if instruction, in some shape or other, does not follow. Pacing its broad terrace-walks, or winding about among its leafy passages; here idly pausing to glance at some newly-blown flower, there (where the unoccupied seat wooes us) at some picturesque combination of tall waving trees, reflected with all their restless lights and shadows in the clear waters of the little lake at their feet, like a green world below; leaning now against the parapet of the bridge over the tunnel to gaze on the comparatively comprehensive view of the demesne thence obtained, with the mounts, and dells, and islands, and lawns, and parterres, and rustic habitations so harmoniously intermingled; and, now, descending to the stern-looking depths beneath, where, with the carriages of fashionable London rolling incessantly over your head at the distance of but a few feet, you may imagine, without any great exertion of the fancy, that you have accidentally wandered into the remote subterranean habitation of some hermit, who, in this gloom, finds his eyes more naturally turn their glance inwards to the contemplation of his own nature, to whom this deep silence is dear, since it enables him the better to hear the voice of his own heart ;--thus or similarly occupied, we might saunter through the

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Gardens without missing or desiring any other sources of interest. But the beautiful place has its own proper inhabitants: turn that corner, and you are with a tall dromedary; cross that velvet lawn, with its richly blooming beds of flowers, and you are suddenly arrested by a couching lioness; here you open the door of a pretty-looking piece of Swiss architecture, and are in a kind of domestic

wilderness of monkeys ;

there, as you are trying to make out what forms there are in the cages on side of a dark passage, a tap on the shoulder makes you suddenly turn in alarm towards the other, where you perceive dimly some vast moving bulk, to find the outlines of which your eyes rise higher and higher, till at last an elephant's gigantic frame becomes visible, his trunk near enough to take you up, so that he may more conveniently see who are, should he be so minded: it is not till we are out of that narrow passage, and secure from any more such surprises, that we can satisfy ourselves that a friendly shake of the hand, in elephant-fashion, was most probably all that was desired, unless indeed we chose to add thereto any little delicacies from the adjoining refectory--trifling but satisfactory proofs of our friendship, which the elephant, in his cordial good-nature, never takes amiss. But the number and variety of these inhabitants!-there really seems no end to them. A visiter who, after spending some hours here, sauntering hither and thither, just as curiosity or impulse guided, should discover a good half of the collection, would deserve every praise for his industry and tact. Still more surprising, rightly considered, than even the number and variety of the families that compose this strangest of villages, are the differences as to the quarters of the globe from whence they have respectively come. Listen but to the characteristic sounds that rise from time to time: the low growl of the bears from the eternal snows of the Polar regions; the hoarse screams and piercing cries of the tropical birds, whose plumage speaks them the children of the sun; the magnificent bay of the Spanish bloodhound ;--but, in short, the whole world has been ransacked to people these few acres of soil, where the magic of skill and enterprise has overcome all difficulties-reconciled conflicting seasons, and tempers, and habits-formed, from the most heterogeneous of materials, of the most thriving, and orderly, and happiest of communities. How admirably man can govern everything but himself!

At the very entrance-gates of , we meet with an amusing illustration of the oddities, to say the least of them, that characterise the dealings of men with each other, even here. Admission to , it may be necessary to inform our country readers, is obtained by the presentation of a ticket (admitting any number), signed by a fellow of the Society, and on payment of a shilling for each person. young genteel-looking females have been waiting for some time, looking with a peculiar air of curiosity in the faces of those who enter; at last, seeing a party of ladies and gentlemen stop for the same purpose- of them modestly steps up and begs permission to enter as part of their company. Surprise appears on the face of the lady addressed, but another steps forward, remarking,

0

, yes! it is a common request;

and the whole enter; the money-taker at the lodge, who could hardly avoid seeing what passed, making no comment. Musing upon this, and remembering our own mode of obtaining a ticket-that is, by simply asking for it at a neighbouring tavern- must be in a serious

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mood to be able to avoid a hearty laugh as we read the announcement carefully set up over the gates, requesting, on the part of the Society, that the fellows would not give tickets except to persons with whom they were acquainted! The effect therefore of this very sensible arrangement is, that uninformed, or peculiarly scrupulous persons, have frequently to put themselves to inconvenience to obtain introductions to fellows of the Society, whilst those of a more doubtful character, the very persons whom it might be supposed the Society wished to keep out, have only to put on their hat, see that they have got a shilling in their pockets, and, if they don't choose to trouble the tavern-keeper, trust with perfect confidence to the passing in, under cover of some other person or party's ticket at the gate. If any of the attendants of the animals were to exhibit eccentricities of this character in their treatment of them, we wonder how long they would remain the Society's servants? We are in, however, and more agreeable subjects for thought await us. A broad terrace walk extends from the little rustic lodges at the entrance, in a straight line onwards, bordered by flowers, shrubs, and trees on each side, and which is now continued at the same level for some distance, over the lower ground, by a handsome viaduct, which, when completed, and all its roomy cages beneath occupied, will form the most striking feature of . Here the carnivorous animals,--the lions, tigers, leopards, &c. are to be located, instead of, as at present, in the Repository, in a distant part of the grounds; and it is considered by having a large space for exercise and for the admission of fresh air, set apart for each animal, with a small sleeping place behind, that artificial warmth may be dispensed with, to the advantage of the animal's health: hence the size of the cages shown in our engraving. Branching to the right of the terrace-walk, immediately on our entering, we find a winding path among lofty bushes and trees, presently opening on our left, and presenting a fine view over the Park, in the foreground of which the beautiful zebra, known as Burchell's, is seen grazing among other novel-looking inhabitants for an English pasture ground; and continuing along the same path, on our right, appears a series of tall broad aviaries, containing some of those splendid domestic birds of the farm-yards of Peru and Mexico, the curassows; and which, in a wild state, are so common in the woods of Guiana that a hungry traveller looks upon them as a certain resource when ordinary provisions fail, for their flesh is white and excellent, and their disposition so accommodating that they will remain perfectly quiet on their perches in the trees whilst he helps himself to his mind and appetite. It may not be generally known that these birds may be bred with as much ease in England as our own poultry. Returning to the terrace, we may remark by the way, that the accurate

List of the Animals,

sold in , occupies no less than closely printed octavo pages; and therefore, that in our notice of , we can aim only to give a kind of general view of their contents, pausing here and there over such details only as seem to us of peculiar interest and moment. At the point of junction of the terrace walk and the Carnivora Terrace on the right, in a deep square pit, are those amusing climbers, the cinnamon bears, male and female. They are idle this afternoon, and not even a cake will tempt them to mount the tall pole. Their prenomen is derived from their handsome brown coats, in which, as well as

260

in locality and in greater ferocity in their natural state, they differ from the American black bears, of which species they are considered to be a variety: specimens of the latter are also to be found in . It is these last-mentioned animals whose furs constitute so important a portion of the business of the Hudson's Bay Company. They are caught chiefly in their winter retreats, places scooped out by themselves beneath fallen trees, where they retire as the snowstorms begin to fall, and are soon as snugly enveloped as any bear can desire. Unfortunately, however, the sagacious hunter has a mode of discovering them even here: their breath makes a small opening in the snow, round which the hoarfrost gathers: the hunter sees that, and his prey is secure. Descending by a circuitous path on the left of the terrace, commanding a charming little bit of scenery, with a lawn and pond in the foreground at the bottom, we find a large octagonal cage, splendid with macaws, in all their red and yellow and red and blue plumage; and who, by their most un-bird-like tumult, seem desirous to show that there is some truth in the philosopher's idea of a kind of compensating principle in nature: it seems we must not expect the songs of the nightingale, the lark, or the blackbird from such magnificently arranged exteriors, or that the last-named birds, whilst enchanting our ears, should at the same time dazzle our eyes. The path, now running between the macaws' cage and the llama-house opposite, conducts us to the lawn rich with purple beech, and with its sparkling little piece of water, dotted over with aquatic birds-among which black swans are conspicuous-and with little raised nests or boxes. In the centre a fountain

Shakes its loosening silver in the sun.

A beautiful and very familiar species of Coreopsis geese, from New Holland, deservedly attract much attention. They are numerous, and have been all bred from a single pair. These might be naturalised in our farm-yards, and their flesh is said, by some travellers, to be more delicate than that of the English bird. The following drawing was made from a pair hatched in .

261

 

Whistling ducks, sheldrakes, and garganey teal, are here also to be found. The llama house has its large court-yard behind, and both are on a scale befitting personages of such importance. At present we see a pair of dromedaries are taking the air in the latter, and putting their heads over the palings to make acquaintance with us, and who could refuse anything to such gentle and expressive looks? Finely has the dromedary been called the Ship of the Desert, not simply from his being the grand agent of commerce and travel over the vast seas of sand, but from his very appearance; that long curving neck, and loftily-borne, outstretched head, might have been the origin of the prow of an ancient galley. As they here slowly move to and fro, would hardly suppose they are the animals so famous for their speed as well as power; whose fleetness, indeed, has passed into a proverb, in a country distinguished at the same time for the finest horses in the world.

When thou shalt meet a heirie,

say the Arabs, referring to the dromedary,

and say to the rider,

Salem Aleik,

ere he shall have answered thee

Aleik Salem,

he will be afar off, and nearly out of sight, for his swiftness is like the wind.

In the centre of a piece of pasture-ground, adjoining the llama precincts, is a curious little open hut, with projecting eaves, raised upon large masses of rock. A horned sheep, the mouflon, is confined in it; an animal so little like its parents (for it is supposed to be originally but the descendant of some of the common sheep that had escaped from human dominion), as to require to be strongly chained up, where he can do no harm with that tremendous of his, which is so powerful as to break down the strongest ordinary fences. To the right of the llama house, is a court-yard surrounding the base of the viaduct at this end, and lined with cages. Here is the Siberian bear, with a broad white band round its neck, and its small sharp-pointed nose, forming a marked contrast with its gigantic round body and head. Here, too, are the wolves, the original, according to our best naturalists, of all the varieties of dog. of the most interesting, though of course by no means the most conclusive evidence to be given of this, is its capability of an attachment to man, as strong as that of the dog. These Gardens furnish very striking illustration, where a she-wolf some years ago actually killed all her young, in the warmth of her zeal, in bringing them to the front of the cage, and rubbing them against the bars, to receive the caresses of those persons she knew, among whom Mr. Bell, the naturalist, from whom the account is derived, was an especial favourite. Among its descendants of the dog kind, if descendants they be, of the most interesting are to be found in close approximation to the wolves--the Esquimaux dog, and the Cuba bloodhound, whose deep, yet loud bay, we have before referred to. This clean limbed, handsome-looking animal, with his light fawn-coloured skin, suggests but little in his appearance, of the terror his very name yet excites, under certain circumstances; and which led to the introduction of a great number of them, during the Maroon war in Jamaica in the last century, to which their very presence put an entire stop, the Maroons being too much alarmed to continue the contest. The ordinary use to which these dogs are put by the Spaniards is to drive the wild bullocks from the more inaccessible parts of the country, to spots convenient for the hunters, who slaughter them for the sake of the hide. They thus obtain the skill and habits desired for the more terrible

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purposes which they occasionally subserve under the care of their masters, the Chasseurs, as they are called; such are the pursuit of murderers and felons, whom it is said they will not harm, unless resistance be offered. Having stopped the fugitive, they crouch near him, and by barking occasionally, guide the Chasseurs to the spot; should the miserable wretch but stir, there is a most ferocious growl by way of warning. In Dallas'

History of the Maroons,

an anecdote is given of the extent of their accomplishments in this way, which seems truly marvellous. A ship, attached to a fleet under convoy to England, was manned chiefly by Spanish sailors, who, as they passed Cuba, took the opportunity of running the vessel on shore, when they murdered the officers, and other Englishmen on board, and carried off all the available plunder into the mountains of the interior. The place was wild and unfrequented, and they fully expected to elude all pursuit. The moment, however, the news reached the Havanna, a detachment of Chasseurs, with their dogs, was sent off. The result was that in a few days the whole of the murderers were brought in and executed, not a man having been injured by the dogs in the capture.
Near these dogs, are a miscellaneous collection of American and Indian foxes, racoons, the American black bear, and the brown bear, so well known to visiters for its amusing antics. It is a bear of excellent sense at the same time. As we approach its cage, it reminds us of a very proper preliminary by thrusting its

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nose between the bars, and opening its jaws as wide as possible; but our stock of delicacies is exhausted, so, having waited a reasonable time, without any result, it moves away with an air of philosophic indifference, and gets rid of any little disappointment it may feel, by a short walk. We are not much accustomed to look on these animals with any feeling of respect or gratitude for their services to man, yet ask the Kamtchatkan what he thinks of the brown bear; or rather ask him what he does with it, and you will know well enough how he must estimate it. He will tell you he not only eats the flesh, but with a relish; that he makes its skin serve for bed, bedding, hat, gloves, and overalls; that its stretched intestines serve him at once for glass to his windows, and masks to his face, protecting it from the sun's glare in the spring; lastly, that the very shoulder blades become useful in the cutting of grass. This is the same bear which was, at time, common in our own country, where however we have found no other use for it than such as the bear gardens could furnish, or those itinerating bear-leaders so often seen even but a few years ago in our streets, who, taking advantage of the peculiar formation of the sole of the animal's foot, taught it to dance for exhibition. Several temporary cages and buildings of enclosure are scattered about this part of the grounds, in which are gnu antelopes, Mexican and other deer (among which the beautiful roebuck delights the eye by its feminine grace and delicacy), sloth bears and Malayan sun-bears, the last, the veriest epicures, perhaps, of the menagerie. In their wild state, the tender young shoots of the cocoa nut tree, and honey, form their chief enjoyments, but when domesticated, nothing less than the choicest luxuries of the table will suffice. Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of , had , which he kept in the nursery with his children, and occasionally admitted to his table, where he partook of the finest wines and fruit. Sir Stamford says, the only times he knew him out of temper was when there was no champagne forthcoming. In the same building with the bears are some beautifully spotted Asiatic leopards, and several of those subjects alike of ancient and modern fable, the hyenas, both spotted and striped, from Africa. Some of the old stories have a touch of poetry about them; according to , the hyaena was accustomed to imitate the language of men, in order to attract wandering shepherds, whom it then devoured. As to modern notions, of the females here gives a sufficient proof of their incorrectness: it is, in the words of the catalogue,

remarkably tame.

After all, it is not unworthy of notice, that the popular faith in marvels generally has some foundation, even if that foundation and the superstructure do not particularly harmonize. The true account of the hyaena, by who had studied the animal well in all its habits, would need no adventitious aid to give it interest. The real stories told of it are most appalling; especially those relating to its love of human flesh, as in the case of children, whom it can manage to carry off without difficulty.

To show clearly,

says Mr. Steedman, in his

Wanderings and Adventures in the Interior of Southern Africa,

the preference of the wolf (Spotted Hywena) for human flesh, it will be necessary to notice, that when the Mambookies build their houses, which are in form like bee-hives, and tolerably large, often eighteen or

twenty

feet in diameter, the floor is raised at the higher or back part of the house, until within

three

or

four

feet of the front, where it suddenly terminates,

leaving an area from thence to the wall, in which every night the calves are tied to protect them from the storms or wild beasts. Now it would be natural to suppose, that should the wolf enter, he would seize the

first

object for his prey, especially as the natives always lie with the fire at their feet; but notwithstanding this, the constant practice of this animal has been, in every instance, to pass by the calves in the area, and even by the fire, and to take the children from under the mother's kaross, and this in such a gentle and cautious manner, that the poor parent has been unconscious of the loss, until the cries of her poor little innocent have reached her from without when a close prisoner in the jaws of the monster.

At some distance beyond the termination of the viaduct, and in the same line, a piece of water attracts attention, even more by its own beauty than by the variety of its aquatic inhabitants. Small but luxuriantly-wooded islands are scattered about the centre, the banks are thickly fringed with reeds, and bordered by elegantly-flowering shrubs, suitable to the kind of scenery indicated; and altogether it is impossible to imagine a much happier existence than these waddling, and swimming, and diving rogues here enjoy-these Brent, and Canadian, and Chinese, and Egyptian, and laughing geese-these tufted, and crossbred pintail, and penguin ducks-these teal, and shovellers, and pochards. In his way, too, the polar bear, in the neighbourhood of the pond, is luxuriantly lodged; he has got his comfortable den, and his pool of water, where he may swim about, and fancy he is once more breasting the seas of the polar regions, swimming his or miles at a time, as they have been seen in Barrow's Straits. It is true a seal now and then would perhaps make him more comfortable, of which animal he is the great tormentor; but is the most persuasive of practical philosophers, and seldom fails in teaching resignation. The monkey-poles, close by, are as yet unoccupied, through the coldness of the season, so we pass on to the condor's cage. This bird's real size, which is among the largest of the vulture family, measuring occasionally no less than feet from tip to tip of wing, when outspread, is perfectly insignificant compared to its old repute, when it was esteemed to be the veritable roc of the

Arabian Nights.

And that there was such a bird who could doubt, after seeing or reading of that famous

claw of the bird roc, who, as authors report, is able to trusse an elephant,

which was in the famous museum of the Tradescants? there was no resisting the claw. Fortunately, however, the roc still keeps in his mysterious solitude, and the condor proves to be a very different bird; which is also fortunate, for as there is scarcely any killing him, but that, such as he is, he must remain till he pleases in his own good time to die, there is no saying what would become of the world had a race of immortal rocs taken possession of it. As an instance of this remarkable tenacity of life in the condor, we remember that Humboldt describes some Indians strangling with a lasso, who afterwards hung it upon a tree, and pulled it forcibly by the feet for some time. They then took it down, removed the lasso, and the condor got up and walked about as though nothing particular had happened.

But what is this great pile of rock-work, almost big enough for a human habitation, covered with foliage, and surrounded by its own little but deep lake

265

of water? The tenant must be of sadly vagrant habits to desire to leave such a complete little estate, yet the wire-work over the whole seems to indicate as much. That is the otter's home, of the great centres of attraction in at the animal's dinner-time, when live fish are thrown into the water, which he catches with astonishing skill and rapidity. The means at his disposal for this purpose have been thus beautifully described:

How silently is the water entered! The eyes are so placed that, whether the animal is swimming below its prey, behind it, above it, or beside it, their situation, or, at most, the least motion of the head and neck, brings it within the sphere of the pursuer's vision. The whole framework of the animal-its short fin-like legs, oary feet, and rudder of a tail-enable it to make the swiftest turns, nay, almost bounds, in the water, according as the rapidity of its agile prey demands a sudden downward dive, an upward spring, or a side snap. The short fur, which is close and fine, keeps the body at a proper temperature, and the longer and outer hairs, directed backwards, enable it to glide through the water, when propelled horizontally by its webbed feet beneath the surface, noiselessly and speedily. Easy and elegant in its motions, there are few objects more attractive in menageries than the pond, especially if it be kept clean and supplied with clear water, wherein the otter is seen to hunt its living prey;

[n.265.1]  as is the case in the interesting little spot before us. An enclosure eastward of the otter's cage contains weazel-headed armadillos, from South America, where the carcases of the wild buffaloes, slaughtered as before mentioned, form a never-ending feast for these little gluttons, who go on eating and eating, and fattening and fattening, till their plump condition attracts the eyes of the human inhabitants of the district, who then, placing them on the fire in their shell, make the (for them) most delicious of all roasts.

We have now reached a kind of central spot of the portion of the gardens that lies on this side of the Park-road, and a charming little place it is, with walks branching off in different directions, each between its own high green and blooming banks, with lawns, and beds of flowers in the centre, a pretty-looking and elegantly furnished-building for refreshment on side, the monkey-house on another, the otter and other cages, just mentioned, on a . The monkey-house has a wired enclosure, extending all along side, for their out-door enjoyments in the summer; but as, it appears, we are not to have any of that almost forgotten season, in this year of , we must step into the house, if we wish to pay our respects to these most amusing of organised beings. For our part, we do not understand how it is physicians are so often puzzled by cases of hypochondria: why do they not send their patients here? Look at that beau, examining his nails with as much attention as if to have a fine hand were the end and aim of monkey existence. Another, after a series of gambols, for your especial benefit, apparently, as a stranger, stops suddenly, and cocks his eye, and tail circling over his head, at you with the most irresistible effect. This little fellow here appears to be puzzled to know what we are doing with our note-book and pencil, so mounts quietly up the wires, till he can look down upon the paper. As to their

266

gambols, a school broke up for the holidays seems but a faint imitation. Their power of locomotion is familiar to every , but really, the amazing distance to which some of these monkeys can throw themselves (for that word expresses but the character of many of these movements), scarcely appears less wonderful for the fiftieth than for the time. Among the other striking features of the monkey-house, that our space alone admits of our noticing, is the sonorous bark of of the baboons, the human-like character of that cluster of faces of the bonnet monkeys, and the exceeding grace and prettiness of the diminutive marmozets. A variety of objects must here be passed summarily over, such as the ponds for the American teal, ducks, &c.; the beaver enclosure, not yet occupied by beavers, or we must have paused there; the building containing the family of birds, in which the destructive power has been developed to its highest extent, the vultures and eagles,--some of the latter, as the Brazilian Caracara eagles, remarkably beautiful; the parrot-house, containing the finest living collection in the world of the most beautiful of all birds, macaws, cockatoos, parrakeets, which combine with the loveliest of known tints, great docility, imitative power, and attachment to those who are kind to them, in a state of-domesticity, and where, in cages, are specimens of the terrible tiger boa, and of the siren, a kind of serpent, with short arms, hands, and feet; and the aviary for small birds, a handsome-looking semicircular piece of architecture, where among weaver birds, and Paradise grackles, and rice-birds, and mocking-birds, a brilliant scarlet ibis especially attracts the eye. We now cross the bridge over the mouth of the tunnel, from which the following view is taken, and then pass on to the owls' cages, where, at this moment, are sitting in compartment, side by side, so grave,

267

solemn, and judge-like, as to provoke the remembrance of the old jest of their likeness to a bench of magistrates; thence to the dove-cote; and to the cattle-sheds, where with a Sing-sing antelope, and a paco, is kept a bison, a formidable looking animal, seen thus solitary and in captivity, but which must be indeed terrible when beheld almost covering, with their immense numbers, the savannahs of the remoter districts of North America, or as when Lewis and Clarke watched them, crossing a river in such multitudes that, although the river was a mile broad, the herd stretched, as thick as they could swim together, from side to side. In the eagle aviary, among other specimens of the genera, are golden eagles, and white-headed sea eagles; from the former of which the young Indian warrior has been accustomed to obtain he plume which he so much prizes, that instances have been known of his exchanging a valuable horse for the tail feathers of a single bird, whilst, from the latter, the United States have borrowed their national emblem. Franklin has a delightful passage on the habits of this bird, and its unfitness for the honour done to it. He says,

For my part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labours of the fishing-hawk; and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest, for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him. With all this injustice, he is never in good case, but like these among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. Besides, he is a rank coward: the little king-bird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly, and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America, who have driven all

king-birds

from our country, though exactly fit for that order of knights which the French call

Chevaliers d'industrie

;

and also, for that order, undreamt of by the philosopher and patriot and honest man, from whose writings we have transcribed the foregoing passage (fortunately for his peace of mind), and as yet unnamed in scientific books, though too generally known, by this time, the world over, as the . Near the aviary is another pond for geese, where the wild swans should not be passed without notice, not simply as natives of Great Britain which have occupied in past times so much Royal attention, but as the species which has in all probability given rise to the beautiful fable, so celebrated by our poets, of its dying amid the sounds of its own music. And here, again, it seems there is the slightest possible groundwork for the idea; its note, which resembles the word hoop uttered several times in succession, is said not to be unmusical heard from above, as the birds sweep along in their wedge-shaped array. The last of the objects on this side of the parkroad, that we shall notice, are the emus, kept in an enclosure just behind the terrace-walk, toward which we have been circuitously returning. These are among the wonders of the animal creation-creatures with wings, that cannot fly, birds with the habits and strength of limb of quadrupeds. The emus, for instance, kick out like a horse, and the blow is strong enough to break a limb. The family of emus includes also the ostrich, of which an individual specimen has just arrived in , the cassowary, and the dodo, once thought to be fabulous,

268

but now pretty well proved to have existed, though, it is to be feared, existing no longer.

Having passed through the tunnel, by which the grounds on the opposite sides of the park-road are connected, we. reach the secluded-looking spot, completely embosomed in lofty trees, and with steep banks sloping down towards the waters of the , where the repository is situated in which carnivorous animals are at present kept during the erection of the terrace already mentioned. On their removal, the present structure, with a new now building by its side, will contain the Museum, which is rich in materials illustrative of the general objects of the Society. In the Repository we find additional specimens of the leopards, whose tastes, when opportunity is given for their development, seem to be in harmony with their appearance. A lady, Mrs. Bowdich, now Mrs. Lee, won the heart of of these animals by lavender water, which it was so extravagantly fond of, as to be trained into the habitual sheathing of its claws, by the mere punishment of the loss of this luxury when it did not. Here, too, are pumas, or panthers, often erroneously called lions, as in the case of the late Mr. Kean's favourite animal, which was a puma, and a very interesting specimen, as showing the erroneousness of the received opinion that the puma was irreclaimable. No dog could be tamer or more docile than Mr. Kean's Tom, which it will be remembered was the gift of Lord Byron. Ocelots, cheetahs, or hunting leopards, with lions and tigers, are to be found also in the Repository. Models of strength, and of that beauty at least which results from extraordinary fitness of means for an end, as gazes long and earnestly upon these latter named animals, which have from the earliest ages engaged so much of the world's attention, we can partly understand the almost miraculous feats attributed to them. Leaps of feet or so are mere bagatelles with both the lion and the tiger; man is like a plaything in their grasp; the powerful Indian buffalo can be carried off by them without difficulty. No wonder, then, that the sound of their roar in their native forests inspires terror in the bravest man, as well as in the most timid beast. Perhaps the most curious proof of the alarm excited by these animals is the existence of a little community, whose residence and entire mode of life is specially arranged for the avoidance of their attacks. When travellers, Messrs. Schoon and M'Luckie, penetrated into a certain portion of the interior of South Africa, in , they found a large tree containing huts of a conical form, built in tiers on the branches, which were supported by poles, the lowest tier about feet above the ground. It appeared they were the dormitories of natives, who had built them there in consequence of the great increase of the lions in the district, after an incursion of a neighbouring tribe, when many persons were slain. The ascent was by means of notches in the poles, the huts were regularly thatched, and would hold persons conveniently. During the heat of the day, the space beneath the tree afforded a very pleasant shade for the owners to sit in. Several deserted villages, built in the same way, were also seen by the travellers. Yet who, as they look upon the noble creature before us, as we see him at this moment, answering with a kind of proud gentleness the fondling of the lioness, would suppose this to be the animal so much dreaded? He may not deserve the character for

269

magnanimity he has enjoyed; but he certainly looks

every inch a king

of the animal tribes.

Near the Repository is a long range of kennels, for a most complete and valuable collection of dogs, who are at present enjoying the air at the length of their tethers in front. Here are the watch-dogs from Thibet, the Grecian greyhound, the Persian sheep-dog, Spanish bloodhounds, a dog from the Celestial Empire, a Spanish mastiff, the famous dog of Mount St. Bernard (of which so many romantic stories are told, in relation to its services to travellers and others lost in the snows of those Alpine regions), Australian and Newfoundland dogs, &c.. Our way now lies through a long and narrow leafy avenue, the extremity of which is lost in the distant foliage, and from which we turn off to the ostrichhouse, where at present are kept a pair of nyl-ghaus, the largest and most magnificent of antelopes, and whose strength is commensurate with their appearance. Their temper, unfortunately, is none of the best, and woe to that animal who, meeting them in their own dense Indian forests, shall be the object of their wrath, as they bend their fore-knees, and advance in that position to the spot from whence they make their tremendous spring. The wapiti deer (the ass of his family, both in stupidity and voice, which is not unlike the bray) is still grander in his appearance than the nyl-ghau antelope, his common height being feet and a half at the shoulder, or a foot higher than the common stag. This deer is kept in the building, with a dark passage running through the centre, before incidentally alluded to, which lies still farther westward (the direction we have been pursuing), with other deer, the elephant, the Brahmin bull and cows (most interesting animals), and a Cape buffalo, which, unlike the lion, carries, as it were, written upon his visage and entire appearance, a most suggestive history of ferocity and irresistible violence. That solid mass of horn covering his forehead, like a broad band rising toward the centre into a kind of double hemispherical shape, must make his head impregnable, a perfect battering-ram, whenever it shall please him so to use it. And many are the stories told by Thunberg, Bruce, and other travellers, showing that the buffalo has not the smallest indisposition to do so with or without provocation. The elephant-house is the next object of attraction, in which we find the stupendous Indian elephant, and that comparatively rare animal in England, the -horned, or Indian rhinoceros --the original, no doubt, of the popular unicorn. The horn of the animal here is merely a bony protuberance over his nose, in consequence of his habit of rubbing it against the sides of the cage; in other respects it is of the largest and finest animals of the kind ever exhibited in England. The horn is shown in its natural state in the following engraving. A curious trait of this animala portion, no doubt, of those natural instincts given to it for its defence in its ordinary state of life--is its liability to excitement from hearing any unusual noise. When in the yard at the back, the sound of the roller on an adjoining walk has made it rush towards the fence in that direction with great violence, and rear itself up. Considering its alleged hostility to the elephant, the juxtaposition here is curious; and has led, through accident, to a very striking disproof of the notion. day the rhinoceros got into the elephant's apartment, and so far from quarrelling, the seem to have made a sudden and eternal friendship.

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of the most entertaining things in is to see the enjoying a bathe in their pond in the spacious court-yard behind, or to see, what we ourselves missed on our visit, but has been described by others, how quiet the rhinoceros will stand whilst his great friend scrubs his back with his trunk, and occasionally gratifies himself by a sly pull at his tail, to make the rhinoceros turn his head, if his attention be taken off by visitors.

We are now approaching the extremity of , where, completely embosomed in the green wood, are various buildings scattered about, as that for the peccary sties, where are of the most interesting of the swine family-the famous wild boar of our royal and noble hunters, for killing which a Saxon lost his eyes, under the rule of the Conqueror-and the collared peccary, from South America-really a beautiful little pig, with slender, delicate legs and feet, intelligent aspect, and particularly clean appearance. Here also arm the houses of the superintendent and head keeper; the former having of its rooms devoted to the reception of a variety of small tender quadrupeds, as the flying opossum, the brown coati-mundi, the golden agouti, porcupine, Indian tiger-cat, jerboas, &c. &c. And, lastly, a remarkably lofty building appears before us, with an enclosed yard on the left, where the trees, fenced to a most unusual height, and with a projecting guard at the top of each fence, seems to imply we have got among some creatures from the scene of Swift's geographical discoveries--that mysterious land of Brobdignag, which not all British skill, and capital, and enterprise, have yet been able to find the way to. And when we do get within the building, and behold the scene shown in our engraving, when we perceive it is the giraffe-house and park that we have been gazing on, it is difficult to resist the impression, that these most beautiful and delicate, but, to the very eyes that behold them, almost incredibly tall creatures cannot belong to any part of our planet with which we have been hitherto familiar. There are now here; adult males and female, and young born in , and enjoying, we are happy to say, excellent health. The female also is again with

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young. In the same house with the giraffes is an animal that more than divides with them the attention and curiosity of visitors; this is the female ourang-outan, which, as the Society's Report for the present year informs us, has now lived nearly years and a half in , or nearly twice as long as any individual of the species was ever known to live in Europe before. Lady Jane, as she is here called, is altogether of a higher grade than her kindred of the monkey tribe. She does not condescend much to gambols; but ask her to do anything sensible, as, for instance, to sit down and take a comfortable cup of tea, and she will do it with the most amusing gravity and precision. But tea-drinking with her is altogether a solemn and ceremonious, albeit daily, proceeding; so she submits herself to her keeper, to have a befitting dress for the occasion put on, and then places her table, lays the cloth, sits down, and sips the tea from the cup and saucer, holding a kind of conversation with the keeper at the same time. The peculiar low noise with which she intimates her assent to his notions, when she approves of them, is more than entertaining; it really seems to suggest so much of what she would say, had not speech been denied. The affectionateness of her disposition is very touching. As the keeper leans over her, she will put up her long arm, and clasp him round the neck, as though she really felt all his attentions and kindness. We have yet much to learn as to the true mental powers and characteristics of such animals, and as to their relation with our own.

It will be seen from the foregoing account, that the available funds of the Society must have been of no ordinary amount. From the financial accounts now before us, it appears that the expenditure on from , the year of commencement, up to the end of , was in general terms This immense sum has been derived chiefly from sources, in very nearly equal

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proportions, namely, the payments of the members or fellows (each for admission and annually), and the shilling admission fees of visitors. In the year , the receipts from the former source have been , and from the latter, The number of fellows, and fellows elect, at the present time, is , or less than . The falling off in this respect is attributed, no doubt correctly, to the retirement of such of the earlier members as cared simply for the place as a fashionable Sunday lounge, and the similar decline in the number of visitors, to those casual influences, which all exhibitions are liable to. The removal of the Museum to , the erection of the new Carnivora Terrace, and the proposed addition of an excellent military band, will no doubt do much to remedy both these causes of decline. But at all events, the Society can now rely upon a certain amount of permanent support, which we are happy to say is amply sufficient to keep these beautiful and interesting Gardens in all their present reputation and value.

 
 
Footnotes:

[n.265.1] Penny Cyclopaedia, article Otter.