Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

direction, to which she could kick with her feet; and the propensity she had of seizing whatever offended her, in her mouth. Strangers

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

ZEBRA OF THE PLAINS.

she would by no means allow to approach her, unless the keeper had hold of her head; and even then there was great risk of a blow from her hind feet.

The beautiful male Zebra that was burnt some years ago at the Lyceum, near Exeter 'Change, was so gentle, that the keeper has often put young children upon its back, and without any attempt from the animal to injure them. In one instance a person rode it from the Lyceum to Pimlico. But this unusual docility in an animal naturally vicious, is to be accounted for from its having been bred and reared in Portugal, from parents that were themselves half reclaimed. A Zebra that was kept at Kew, was of a ferocious and savage nature. No one dared to approach it, except the person who was accustomed to feed it, and who alone could mount upon its back. Mr. Edwards saw this animal eat a large paper of tobacco, paper and all; and was told it would eat flesh, and any kind of food that was given to it. This, however, might proceed from habit or necessity in its long voy. age; for in a native state these animals all feed, like Horses and Asses on vegetables.

The voice of the Zebra can scarcely be described. It is thought by some persons to have a distant resemblance to the sound of a post-horn. It is more frequently exerted when the animals are alone, than at other times.

In some parts about the Cape of Good Hope there are many Zebras; and a penalty of fifty rix-dollars is inflicted on any person who shoots one of them. Whenever any of these animals happen to be caught alive, there is a general order that they must be sent to the governor.

THE QUAGGA.

The Quagga is also a native of South Africa. It bears some

resem. blance to the Zebra, but is at once distinguished from that animal by the pau. city and dulness of the stripes, which do not reach to the hind quarters or legs at all, and only faintly mark the back, its head and neck bearing the deepest stripes. It is not formed quite so gracefully as the Zebra, — its hind quarters being

slightly higher than its shoulders. The natives occasionally tame it for the purposes of draught, but it is not to be depended on, being vicious and very wild.

[graphic]

THE QUAGGA.

[graphic][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed]

ONLY one species of Hippopotamus has hitherto been discovered. This has four front teeth in each jaw; the upper ones stand distant by pairs, the lower ones are prominent, and the two middle ones the longest. The canine teeth are solitary; those of the lower jaw extremely large, curved, and cut obliquely at the ends. The feet are each armed at the margin with four hoofs.

THE AMPHIBIOUS HIPPOPOTAMUS

In size tbe full-grown Hippopotamus is equal, or even sometimes su. perior, to the Rhinoceros. One that M. Le Vaillant killed in the south of Africa measured ten feet seven inches in length, and about nine in circum. ference. Its form is uncouth, the body being extremely large, fat, and round; the legs are very short and thick; the head is large, the mouth extremely wide; and the teeth of vast strength and size. The eyes and ears are small. The tail is

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

TEB HIPPOPOTAXUS.

short, and sparingly scattered with hair. The whole animal is covered with short hair, thinly set, and is of a brownish color. The bide is in some parts two inches thick, and not much unlike that of the hog.

From the unwieldiness of his body, and the shortness of his legs, the Hippopotamus, according to the account given by M. de Buffon, is not able to move fast upon land, and is then an extremely timid animal. If pursued he takes to the water, plunges in, sinks to the bottom, and there walks at ease. He cannot, however, continue long without rising to the air for the purpose of breathing; though, if threatened with danger, he does this so cautiously, that the place where his nose is raised above the surface of the water is scarcely perceptible.

If wounded, the Hippopotamus will rise and attack boats or canoes with great fury, and he will often sink them by biting large pieces

out of their sides. In shallow rivers, he makes deep holes in the bottom, in order to conceal his great bulk. When he quits the water, he usually puts out half his body at once, and smells and looks round; but he sometimes rushes out with great impetuosity, and tramples down every thing in his way. During the night he leaves

the rivers, in order to feed on sugar-canes, rushes, millet, or rice, of which he consumes great quantities.

The Egyptians are said to adopt a singular mode of destroying this voracious animal. They mark the places that he chiefly frequents, and there deposit a quantity of peas. When the beast comes ashore, hungry and voracious, he eagerly devours the peas, which occasion an insupportable thirst. He then rushes into the water, and drinks so copiously, that the peas in his stomach being fully saturated, swell so much as soon afterwards to kill him. Among the Caffres in the South of Africa, the Hippopotamus is sometimes

caught by means of pits, made in the paths that lead to his haunts. But the gait of this animal, when undisturbed, is generally so slow and cautious, that he often smells out the snare, and avoids it. The most certain method is to watch him at night, behind a bush close to his path: and, as he passes, to wound him

in the tendons of the knee-joint, by which he is immediately rendered lame, and unable to escape from the numerous hunters that afterwards assail him.

These creatures are capable of being tamed. Belon says, he has

[graphic]

HIPPOPOTAMOS UPBETTING A BOAT.

[blocks in formation]

seen one so gentle, as to be let loose out of a stable, and led by its keeper, without attempting to injure any person.

"The Hippopotamus is not (says Dr. Sparrman) so slow and heavy in his pace on land, as M. de Buffon describes him to be; for both the Hottentots and colonists consider it dangerous to meet a Hippopotamus out of the water; indeed, an instance had recently occurred, of one of these animals having for several hours pursued a Hottentot, who found it difficult to make his escape.'

Prefessor Thunburg was informed, by a respectable person at the Cape, that as he and a party were on a hunting expedition, they observed a female Hippopotamus come out from one of the rivers, and retire to a little distance from its bank, in order to calve. They lay concealed in the bushes till the calf and its mother made their appearance, when one of them fired, and shot the latter dead. The Hottentots, who imagined that after this they could seize the calf alive, immediately ran from their hiding place; but though it had only just been brought into the world, the young animal got out of their hands, and made the best of its way to the river, where, plunging in, it got safely off. This is a singular instance of pure instinct, for, the Prófessor observes, the creature unhesitatingly ran to the river, as its proper place of security, without having previously received any instructions from the actions of its parent to do so.

The flesh of the Hippopotamus is in great request among the Hottentots, who are very fond of it, either roasted or boiled. Their partiality might not, however, induce a European to suppose it excellent, for they considerably exceed our epicures in their relish for highflavored game. Thunburg passed a Hottentot tent, which had been pitched for the purpose of consuming the body of an Hippopotamus, that had been killed some time before: the inhabitants were in the midst of such stench, that the travellers could hardly pass them with. out being suffocated.

The skin of the Hippopotamus is cut into thongs for whips, which, for softness and pliability, are preferred by the Africans to those of the hide of the rhinoceros; and the tusks, from their always preserving their original whiteness and purity, are reckoned superior to ivory. The French dentists manufacture them into artificial teeth..

These animals inhabit the rivers of Africa, from the Niger to Berg river, many miles north of the Cape of Good Hope. They formerly abounded in the rivers nearer the Cape, but they are now almost extirpated there. Mr. Cumming relates a curious adventure, in which he assailed the Hippopotamus in the water, armed only with a knife.

[graphic]

HIPPOPOTAMUS.

« PreviousContinue »