The number at present in the Tower exceeds a hundred, varying from four to six feet in length, and differing very considerably from each other both in colour and markings.
The present species is from two to three feet in length, exclusive of the tail, which is nearly half as much more; and stands from ten to twelve inches high. His body, which is more elongated in its form than that of any of the animals hitherto described, is covered with long hair, the ground colour of which is of a brownish gray intermingled with numerous transverse interrupted bands or irregular spots of black. A series of longer hairs of the latter colour occupy the middle line of the back, from between the shoulders to the extremity of the tail, and form a kind of mane, which may be raised or depressed at pleasure. The legs and greater part of the tail are perfectly black, and the upper lip and sides of the neck nearly white. A large patch of black surrounds each eye, and passes from it to the angle of the mouth; and two or three other bands of the same colour pass obliquely from the base of the ears towards the shoulder and neck, the latter of which is marked by a broad black patch.
From the unsuspecting credulity with which this textbook of the naturalists of the middle ages continued to be received, it is evident that the science remained stationary, if it did not actually retrograde, during the lapse of fourteen or fifteen centuries. The want of[xiii] opportunities of investigation may be regarded as the principal cause of this lamentable deficiency. Some of the rarer animals, it is true, were occasionally to be seen in Europe; but Menageries constructed upon a broad and comprehensive plan were as yet unknown. The first establishment of modern days, in which such a plan can fairly be said to have been realised, was the Menagerie founded at Versailles by Louis the Fourteenth. It is to this institution that we owe the Natural History of Buffon and his coadjutor Daubenton; the one as eloquent as Pliny, with little of his credulity, but with a greater share of imagination; and the other a worthy follower of Aristotle in his habits of minute research and patient investigation, but making no pretensions to the powerful and comprehensive mind and the admirable facility of generalising his ideas which so preeminently distinguished that great philosopher.
Of all the quadrupeds which inhabit the northern regions of the American continent, the Grizzly Bear is unquestionably the most formidable and the most dreaded. Superior to the rest of his tribe, not excepting even the polar species, in bulk, in power, in agility, and in the ferocity of his disposition, it is not to be wondered at that he should be regarded by the native Indians with an almost superstitious terror, and that some portion of this feeling should have been communicated even to the civilized travellers, who have occasionally met with him in the wild and desolate regions which are subject to his devastations. In the Journals of some of these travellers we find recorded such astonishing instances of his strength, ferocity, and extraordinary tenacity of life as would indeed amaze us, were we not aware how much the human mind is prone, under certain circumstances, to fall into exaggeration, in many cases most certainly unintentional. Making, however, all due allowances for the existence of this very natural feeling, we are bound to acknowledge that there are few animals who can compete with this terrible beast; and that to be made the object of his pursuit is an occurrence well calculated to alarm the stoutest heart, even when provided with the most certain and deadly weapons of human invention, guided by the most experienced eye, and directed by the steadiest hand.
In conclusion we have only to add that the fine little Elephant from which our figure was taken appears from his dimensions and from the very small size of his tusks to be little more than three years old. He is extremely good tempered, and became reconciled to his situation almost from the very moment of his arrival.
The ears of the Elephant are large, not elevated like those of other quadrupeds so as to form a kind of trumpet for the reception of sound, but flattened down upon the side of the head, and forming a broad and uninterruptedly expanded surface. His eyes, remarkably small in proportion to his bulk, are sheltered above by a cluster of long hairs, which, with a few others scattered over the head and still more rarely on the body, and a kind of brush at the extremity of the tail, constitute the only covering, if covering it may be called, with which he is provided. His skin in fact is throughout nearly destitute of hair; but in return it is, as in the rest of the order, of excessive thickness and extreme tenacity, insomuch as to be capable of repelling a common musket ball, which scarcely makes the slightest impression upon its surface. His feet are enveloped by a large hoof of a callous and almost horny consistence, and are divided, in the skeleton at least, into five toes, the extremities only of which, rendered obvious by the nails by which they are surmounted, are externally visible. On the hind feet the number of apparent toes varies from three to four.
The species of the group, of which the Llama forms the type, have been involved by the imperfect descriptions of naturalists in almost inextricable confusion. No less than five have been admitted; but the variations of colour and of size, and the degree of length and fineness of the wool, differences rather commercial than natural, afford almost the only positive distinctions that have yet been laid down between them; and when we consider that some of them have been for ages in a state of domestication, it will readily be allowed that such characters as these are, to say the least, trivial and uncertain. Our animals, which are nearly four feet in height at the shoulder, and somewhat more than five feet to the top of the head, have the neck, the back, the sides, and the tail, which is rather short, covered with a beautiful coat of long, bright brown, woolly hair. The long and pointed ears, and the small and attenuated head, on which the hair is short, close, and even, are of a grayish mouse-colour; the outside of the legs is of the same colour with the sides of the body; and their inside, as also the under part of the body and the throat, pure white. The hair on the limbs is short and smooth. In these respects they offer but little to distinguish them from any of the animals which have been exhibited in this country under the various names of Llamas, Pacos, and Guanacos. There is, however, at present in the Garden of the Zoological Society, an animal, which besides being of larger size, covered with longer and coarser wool, and entirely white (which latter circumstance may be purely accidental), differs remarkably in the form of the forehead, which in it is perfectly flat, while in our animals it rises in a strong curve. This character, it is probable, affords a permanent ground of distinction, although we venture not at present to speak decidedly respecting it.