Canis pictus. Desm.
In making these observations it is far from our intention to become the apologists of this ferocious beast: our object is simply to place him in the rank which he deserves to hold, on a level with those animals with whom Nature has decreed that he should be associated no less in character than in form. In his wild and unrestricted state, he is unquestionably one of the most terrible of the living scourges, to whose fatal ravages the lower animals, and even man himself, are exposed. But in captivity, and especially if domesticated while young, his temper is equally pliant, his disposition equally docile, and his manners and character equally susceptible of amelioration, with those of any other animal of his class. All the stories that have been so frequently reiterated, until they have at length passed current without examination as accredited truths, of his intractable disposition and insensibility to the kind treatment of his keepers, towards whom it is alleged that he never exhibits the slightest feelings of gratitude, have been proved by repeated experience to be utterly false and groundless. He is tamed with as much facility, and as completely, as the Lion; and soon becomes familiarised with those who feed him, whom he learns to distinguish from others, and by whom he is fond of being noticed and caressed. Like the cat, which he resembles so closely in all his actions, he arches his broad and powerful back beneath the hand that caresses him; he licks his fur and smooths himself with his paws; and purrs in the same mild and expressive manner when he is particularly pleased. He remains perfectly quiet and undisturbed, unless when hungry or irritated, and passes the greater part of his time in listless repose. His roar is nearly similar to that of the Lion, and, like his, is by no means to be regarded as a symptom of anger, which he announces by a short and shrill cry, approaching to a scream.
THE ZEBRA OF THE PLAINS.
Felis Tigris. Linn.
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.
Like the Eagles these birds live in pairs, and not in flocks; they build their aiery, if so it may be termed, on the loftiest trees, or, where these are wanting, in the most bushy and tufted thickets. They run with extreme swiftness, trusting, when pursued, rather to their legs than to their wings; and as they are generally met with in the open country, it is with difficulty that they can be approached sufficiently near for the sportsman to obtain a shot at them. They are natives of the south of Africa, and appear to be tolerably numerous in the neighbourhood of the Cape; where, it is said, they have been tamed to such a degree as to render them useful inmates of the poultry-yard, in which they not only destroy the snakes and rats which are too apt to intrude upon those precincts, but even contribute to the maintenance of peace among its more authentic inhabitants by interposing in their quarrels and separating the furious combatants who disturb it by their brawls.
Like most reptiles they retire during the winter into holes, in which they remain in a torpid state until the return of spring; and during this period they may be taken or destroyed without danger. Their flesh is eaten by the negroes, who also apply their fat, as well as their rattles, to various medicinal or superstitious uses.下载
The Jaguar is generally said to be quite untameable, and to maintain his savage ferocity even in a state of captivity, showing no symptoms of attachment to those who have the care of him. This assertion is amply contradicted by the fact that an individual confined in the Paris Menagerie, was exceedingly mild in his temper, and particularly fond of licking the hands of those with whom he was familiar; as was also remarkably the case with the specimen lately in the Tower, whose portrait ornaments the present article. This animal was obtained by Lord Exmouth while on the American station, and accompanied the expedition to Algiers at the memorable bombardment of that nest of pirates. On his return to England, his Lordship gave it to the Marchioness of Londonderry, who soon afterwards presented it to his Majesty, by whose order it was placed in the Tower; where it continued until a short time since, when it unfortunately died. Mr. Cops is, however, in expectation of being soon enabled to replace it. It was exhibited under the name of the Panther, an appellation which we have before stated that the Jaguar had erroneously obtained, not only among the furriers, by whom it is universally so called, but even among scientific zoologists.下载
The Eagles, properly so called, are characterized by a head covered with plumage and flattened above; eyes large, lateral, and deep-seated; a bill of great strength, arched and hooked at its extremity alone, and furnished at its base with a naked membrane, called the cere, in which the openings of the nostrils are situated; the wings broad and powerful; the tarsus, or that joint of each leg which is immediately above the toes, strong, short, and covered with feathers down to the very base; the toes thick and naked, three of them pointing forwards, and the fourth constantly directed backwards; and the talons of great power and strongly curved. The Golden Eagle, which occupies the right hand in the cut, is frequently three feet and a half in length from the extremity of the beak to that of the tail. His general colour is blackish brown both above and below, assuming on the legs a grayish or sometimes a reddish tinge. His beak is bluish black, covered at the base by a yellow cere; and his toes, which are also yellow, terminate in strong black talons, the posterior one of which frequently attains an enormous length. He is met with throughout the Old Continent, and more especially within the limits of the temperate zone, building his aiery, which he shares with a single female, in the clefts of the loftiest rock, or among the topmost branches of the alpine forest. From this retreat he towers aloft in search of his prey, which he pursues by sight alone, subsisting principally on other birds and on the smaller quadrupeds, which he carries off in his powerful clutch. When his hunger is extreme he sometimes pounces upon the larger animals; but in such circumstances he is compelled to content himself with sucking their blood upon the spot, and with stripping off portions of their flesh, on which to satiate his appetite at home. Instances have been known of his attaining in captivity to an age of more than a hundred years.
The noble birds which illustrate the present article were presents from the Marchioness of Londonderry.