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.
THE CAPE LION.
The foregoing description of the horns, it should be observed, is taken from those of the year before last, which were of the genuine or normal form. Those of the last year, which are represented in the cut prefixed, were from some cause or other remarkably different, that of the right side especially exhibiting a singular monstrosity in the production of additional branches of irregular form. Whether this was the effect of disease or of advancing age, or whether it arose solely from some temporary and accidental cause, will probably be determined by the growth of the present year, which is not yet sufficiently advanced to enable us to ascertain its probable form.
In captivity, however, especially if taken while yet young, his character frequently undergoes a change as favourable as that which takes place under the same circumstances in the generality of his tribe. The pair at present in the Tower are male and female; they are both Asiatic, and are confined in the same den, but they differ very materially in temper and disposition. The female, which is the older of the two, and has been a resident in the Menagerie for upwards of four years, is exceedingly tame, suffering herself to be patted and caressed by the keeper, and licking his hands. Strangers, however, especially ladies, should be cautious of approaching her too familiarly, as she has always evinced a particular predilection for the destruction of umbrellas, parasols, muffs, hats, and such other articles of dress as may happen to come within her reach, seizing them with the greatest quickness and tearing them into pieces almost before the astonished visiter has become aware of the loss. To so great an extent has she carried this peculiar taste that Mr. Cops declares that he has no doubt that during her residence in the Tower she has made prey of at least as many of these articles as there are days in the year. The agility with which she bounds round her cell, which is of considerable size, touching at one leap, and almost with the velocity of thought, each of its four walls, and skimming along the ceiling with the same rapidity of action, which is scarcely to be followed by the eye, is truly wonderful, and speaks more forcibly of the muscular power and flexibility of limb by which such extraordinary motions are executed than language can express.
In his moral and intellectual faculties, as well as in his external and physical characters, the Lion exhibits a close agreement with the strikingly distinct and well marked group to which he belongs, and of which he is unquestionably the first in rank and importance: and perhaps the most effectual means of guarding against the general prejudice, which has delighted in exalting him at the expense of his fellow beasts, will be found in the recollection that, both physically and morally, he is neither more nor less than a cat, of immense size and corresponding power it is true, but not on that account the less endowed with all the guileful and vindictive passions of that faithless tribe. His courage is proverbial: this, however, is not derived from any peculiar nobility of soul, but arises from the blind confidence inspired by a consciousness of his own superior powers, with which he is well aware that none of the inferior animals can successfully compete. Placed in the midst of arid deserts, where the fleet but timid antelope, and the cunning but powerless monkey fall his easy and unresisting prey; or roaming through the dense forests and scarcely penetrable jungles, where the elephant and the buffalo find in their unwieldy bulk and massive strength no adequate protection against the impetuous agility and fierce determination of his attacks, he sways an almost undisputed sceptre, and stalks boldly forth in fearless majesty. But change the scene, and view him in the neighbourhood of populous towns, or even near the habitations of uncultivated savages, and it will then be seen that he recognises his master, and crouches to the power of a superior being. Here he no longer shows himself openly in the proud consciousness of his native dignity, but skulks in the deepest recesses of the forest, cautiously watches his opportunities, and lies in treacherous ambush for the approach of his unwary prey. It is this innate feeling of his incapacity openly to resist the power of man, that renders him so docile in captivity, and gives him that air of mild tranquillity, which, together with the dignified majesty of his deportment, has unquestionably contributed not a little towards the general impression of his amiable qualities.
The Puma figured above is a female, about three years old, exceedingly sleek in her fur and lively in her colours, and equally mild and good-tempered with any of her race.