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gateway of the pretty clock-house. That the dread monarch of the forest and the other “great cats ” are beneath his feet, he is made aware by angry growls and the quivering sound of shaken iron bars, as the keeper goes round with his daily beefbarrow. No one can help feeling a certain sense of strangeness at seeing these creatures of all climes scattered amid a flourishing garden—to witness beasts, ensanguined in tooth and claw, impatiently pacing to and fro between banks of scarlet geraniums or beds brilliant with the countless blooms of early dahlias-or, still more oddly, to witness birds of prey which love to career in the storm, surrounded by monthly roses. Had it been possible to have given each class of bird and animal its appropriate vegetation, it would doubtless have been preferable; but such an arrangement was manifestly impossible.
Descending from this general survey, the long row of dens which run below the terrace on either side are the first to attract the visitor's attention. Before this terrace was constructed, in 1840, the larger carnivora were cooped up in what is now the reptile-house. The early dens of the establishment form a good example of the difficulty Englishmen experience in suiting themselves to altered circumstances. On the first formation of the gardens the Society seems to have taken for its model some roving menagerie, as many houses of the beasts were nothing better than caravans dismounted from their wheels, and the managers encamped their collection in a fashion little more permanent than Wombwell would have done upon a village green. It was speedily found that the health of the felidæ* suffered materially from their close confinement, which did not even admit of the change of air experienced in the travelling caravan. In fact, the lions, tigers, leopards, and pumas, did not live, on an average, more than twenty-four months. To remedy this state of things the terrace dens were constructed, and, rushing from one extreme to the other, tropical animals were left exposed to the full rigour of winter. The drifting rain fell upon their hair, and they were exposed in cold, wet weather to a temperature which even man, who ranges from the torrid zone to the arctic circle, could not resist unprotected. The consequences were manifested in the increase of inflammatory lung diseases, and it is now found necessary to protect the dens by matting and artificial heat from the extreme cold and damp of the winter months. In the summer the exposure suits them admirably, and it must be confessed that the tigers look only too fat and comfortable. One of the most interesting cages is that which contains a family party, consisting of the mastiff with the lion and his mate. They were brought up together from cub-hood, and agree to a marvel; though the dog would prove little more than a mouthful for either of his noble-looking companions. Visitors express a vast deal of sympathy for him, and fancy that the lion is only saving him up, as the giant did Jack, for a future feast. But their sympathy, we believe, is thrown away. “Lion” has always maintained the ascendancy he assumed when a pup, and any rough handling on the part of his huge playfellows is immediately resented by his flying at their noses. Although the dog is allowed to come out of the den every morning, he shows a great disinclination to leave his old friends. It is, however, thought advisable to separate them at feeding-time. Both the lion and lioness are of English birth, and it is singular that out of the great number that have been born in the Society's garden fully fifty per cent. have come into the world with cloft palates, and have perished in
* The Felidæ are carnivora or flesh-eating animals of the cat kind, as the domestic and wild cat, tigers, leopards, lyuxes, lions, &c. Among quadrupeds they are what the Falconidæ are among birds.
consequence of not being able to suck. If the keepers were to fill their nostrils with tow, we fancy they could accomplish this act, as well at least as children who are suffering from cold in the head. The male affords us an opportunity of showing the difference between the African variety to which he belongs and the East Indian specimen at the other end of the terrace. Our young Cape friend has a fine mane, and a tail but slightly bushed at the top, which droops towards the ground. The full-grown animal from Goojerat is, on the contrary, comparatively maneless, and his tail takes a short curl upwards at the end. The caudal* extremity of both is furnished with a rudimentary claw. This little appendage was supposed by the ancients to be instrumental in lashing the lion into fury, and Mr. Gordon-Cumming informs us that the natives of South Africa believe it to be the residence of an evil spirit which never evacuates its post until death overtakes the beast and gives it notice to quit. The Goojerat or maneless lion is supposed to be the original of the beast in the Royal Coat of Arms which we regard with such respect as a national emblem, but which foreigners maintain is nothing better than a leopard.
But why do we coop these noble animals in such nutshells of cages ? What a miserable sight to see them pace backwards and forwards in their box-like dens! Why should they, of all the
* That is, belonging to a tail.
beasts of the forest, be condemned to such imprisonment? The bear has his pole, the deer his paddock, the otter his pool, where at least they have enough liberty to keep them in health; but we stall our lions and tigers as we would oxen, till they grow lethargic, fat, and puffy, like city aldermen. With half an acre of enclosed ground, strewn with sand, we might see the king of beasts pace freely, as in his Lybian* fastness, and with twenty feet of artificial rock, might witness the tiger's bound. Such an arrangement would, we are convinced, attract thousands to the gardens, and restore to the larger carnivora that place among the beasts from which they have, here been so unfairly degraded. We commend this idea to the able secretary to the Society, who has shown, by his system of " starring,” how alive he is to the fact that it is to the sixpenny and shilling visitors who flock to the gardens by tens of thousands on holidays that he must look to support the wise and liberal expenditure he has lately adopted.
On the other side of the terrace, in addition to the leopards and hyænas, is to be found a splendid collection of bears, from the sharp-muzzled sun-bear (who robs a beehive in a hollow tree as artistically as a London thief cuts a purse) to the enormous Russian Bruin, the largest perhaps ever exhibited. “Prince Menschikoff,” † as he is called by the keepers, grew into exceeding good condition in the gardens at Hull, where it appears he chiefly dieted upon his brethren, the cannibal having consumed no less than five bears; and they appear to have had the same effect upon him as cod-liver oil upon a human invalid. His neighbours, the white Polar bears, contrast with him strangely in physiognomy and form; their heads, sharp as polecats', seem fashioned, like cutwaters, to enable them to make their way in the sea; and if they would lift their huge paws, we should see that they were clothed almost entirely with hair, to aid them in securing a firm footing on the ice. The largest of these beasts managed to get out of his inclosure before the top of it was barred in; but he was peaceably led back again. Indeed, even the wildest of the beasts, after a little confinement, seem so frightened at recovering their liberty, that they casily allow themselves to be recaptured.
In one year the Felidæ alone consumed beef, mutton, and horseflesh to the value of 13671. 195. 5d. This sum is entirely irrespective of the fish, snakes, frogs, and other “small deer" given to the birds and inferior carnivora. They all live here like gentlemen, emancipated from the drudgery of finding their * Lybian or African.
Since gone to make bear's-grease.
daily food. They have their slaughter-houses close at hand in the gardens, where sheep, oxen, and horses are weekly killed expressly for them. Some of them will eat only cooked meat. Soon after the establishment of the gardens experiments were made as to the best manner of feeding them, which proved that while they gained flesh and continued active upon one full meal a day, they lost weight and became drowsy on two half-meals. In the endeavour to follow nature still closer, they were dieted more sparely, and even fasted at certain seasons. This treatment, however, resulted in a catastrophe-a female leopard and puma killing and eating their companions: a strong hint for fuller rations, which was not neglected.
Let us now cross over from the cages of the king of the beasts to the aviary of the king of birds. The collection of eagles, vultures, and condors, numbers upwards of twenty species, among which we recognize “the oldest inhabitant” of the gardens—the vulture presented to the Society by Mr. Brooks, the surgeon, more than thirty years ago. Notwithstanding his age, he looks one of the finest birds in the collection. We question, however, if the last new-comer of the same species will not “put his bill out,” arriving as he does from a distant shore to which thousands of anxious hearts have turned. We allude to the vulture lately sent from the Crimea. He was caught near the monastery of St. George, and the proximity of his retreat to many a battlefield suggests reflections too painful to dwell upon. The prominent impression produced in glancing at this aviary is the perfect isolation which each bird maintains as he crowns the topmost pinnacle of the heap of rocks reared in the centre of his den, where he perches, motionless as a stone. There seems to be no recognition of fellow-prisoners- no interchange of either blows or courtesies between the iron netting. Each seems an enduring captive that will not be comforted or won over to the ways of men. Now and then unsheathing his piercing eye, we perceive the huge wings spread, and perchance remembering the callow eaglets in some Alpine eyrie,* the bird soars upwards for a moment, beats his pinions against the netting, and falls to the earth again with the dead-weight flop of a Christmas turkey. It is impossible to contemplate these birds without pity, not unmixed with pain.
This is the romance of the noble bird's mode of obtaining food-here, as he marches off with a dead rat in his claw, or a piece of raw beef, we behold its prose. But however unpoetical this treatment, it cannot be said to disagree with him, * The nest of a bird at a great height, as of an eagle or a hawk.
as fine plumage and good condition prove. Passing on our way to the monkey-house, the merry otters are seen playing
follow-my-leader” round their rock house, now plunging headlong in search of the flat-fish which shines at the bottom of the water—now bringing it to shore, and crushing flesh, vertebræ, and all.
The admirably-arranged, but vilely-ventilated monkey-house, is always a great source of attraction. The mixture of fun and solemnity, the odd attitudes and tricks, and the human expression of their countenances, all tend to attract, and at the same time to repel. Mr. Rogers used to say, that visiting them was like going to see one's poor relations; and wondrous shabby old fellows some of them appear. We have only to look into their faces for a moment to see that they differ from each other as much as the faces of mankind. There is a large, long-haired, black-faced rascal, who looks as murderous as a Malay; a little way off we see another with great bushy whiskers and shaggy eyebrows (the mona), the very picture of a successful horsedealer; a third, with his long nose and keen eye, has all the air of a crafty old lawyer. The contemplation of them brings involuntarily to the mind the doctrine of the transmigration of souls. The apes and baboons are indeed purely brutal, and only excite disgust: towards the latter the whole company of smaller monkeys express the utmost hatred—as may be seen when the keeper by way of fun takes one them out of his cage and walks him down the room. The whole population rush to the front of their cages, and hoot, growl, and chatter at him as only dissatisfied shareholders can do when their chairman takes his seat. The lively little Capuchin monkeys are evidently the favourites, and get most of the nuts; the brown Capuchin appears to be particularly knowing, as he keeps a big pebble at hand, and when he finds that his teeth are not equal to the task, he taps the nut with the stone with just sufficient force to break the shell without bruising the kernel. We have often seen this little fellow take a pinch of snuff, and assiduously rub his own and his companion's skin with it, with a full knowledge, no doubt, of the old recipe for killing fleas. He will also make use of an onion for a similar purpose. Among the other quadrumana * in this house we find the lemurs, which look more like longlegged weasels than monkeys, and the bright-faced little marmosets, who cluster inquiringly to the front of their cage looking
* Animals having four hands, as monkeys.