BEHIND THE SCENES WITH WILD ANIMALS.
By Ellen Velvin, F. Z. S.
Author of "Rataplan, a Rogue Elephant," "Wild Creatures Afield," and Editor of "The Training of Wild Animals"
Published October, 1906
In presenting this book to the public I wish it to be clearly understood that I make no pretension of having stated what is either unparalleled or unknown. I have simply related those things which have come within my own experience or within that of a reliable informant. I have been accorded unusual opportunities of studying the actions, care, training and feeding of wild animals in captivity. The directors of several zoological gardens have allowed me the entree behind the scenes, and several of the show proprietors have given me free access to their shows at any time.
I am specially indebted to William T. Hornaday, Director of the New York Zoological Park, who has given me valuable assistance and who suggested the title of this book; to Dr. Frank Baker, Superintendent of the National Zoological Park, Washington, D. C.; P. Chalmers Mitchell, Esq., Secretary of the Zoological So ciety of London, England; Dr. Ernst Pinkert, Director Zoological Gardens, Leipzig, Germany; the Superintendent Royal Zoological Society of Ireland, Dublin; Dr. Heinrich Bolau, Director Zoological Gardens, Hamburg, Germany; E. M. B. Villiers, Esq., Zoological Gardens, Clifton, Bristol, England; Dr. F. A. Crandall, Curator of the Zoo, Buffalo; Messrs. Jennison, Zoological Gardens, Belle Vue, Manchester, England; Professor Montecelli, Director Zoological Institute, The University, Naples, Italy; Dr. Geva Horváth, Director Zoological Department, Hungarian National Museum, Basle, Hungary; Dr. Robert D. Carson, Superintendent, and Arthur E. Brown, Esq., Secretary, of the Zoological Gardens, Philadelphia; Dr. Seitz, Director Zoological Gardens, Frankfurt -on-Main, Germany; M. E. Porte, Director Jardin d'Acclimation, Paris, France; Captain Flower, Director Zoological Gardens, Cairo, Egypt; Mr. John Abernethy, U. S. M., Guthrie, Oklahoma; Messrs. Thompson and Dundy, the New York Hippo drome and Luna Park, Coney Island; Mr. Frank C. Bostock; Mr. Percy Mundy, Luna Park; the late Mr. Bailey; and last, but not least, I am indebted to the trainers, performers and keepers of the many shows and zoos I have visited.
If any part of the book gives one half the interest and pleasure which I experienced while making these studies, I shall be more than re paid.
Ellen Velvin. New York City, August, 1906.
1. The Love of Investigation
II. First Impressions behind the Scenes
III. Hairbreadth Escapes of which the Public Never Hears
IV. Perils of the Runway
V. Photographing Wild Animals
VI. Animals' Individualities
VII. The Young of the Wild
VIII. The Training of an Animal Trainer
IX. Star Performers
X. The Inside Life of Animal Shows
XI. Treachery and Viciousness among Animals
XII. All Sorts and Conditions of Men
XIII. The Public's Point of View
XIV. About Wolves
XV. Travelling with Wild Animals
XVI. Curious Facts in Animal Land
XVII. Obtaining Information
Claire Heliot and Her Favourite Pupil.
A Photograph from Life, Frontispiece The Wonderful Harpy Eagle of the National Zoological Park at Washington. He Is Marvellously Self-Possessed. Nothing Disturbs Him, Nothing Excites Him
A Full Dress Rehearsal. Mlle. Blanche Allarty Putting the Finishing Touches to the Education of One of Bostock's Dromedaries
Mme. Pianka and Her Class. The Photograph Shows the Central Lion Reaching Out His Paw for a Vigorous and Unfriendly Blow at His Mistress' Head
Training a Brown Bear.
Thomas Mulvihill, of the New York Zoo, Showing Bill How to Behave in Company
Bonavita and the Celebrated Lion, Baltimore. It Was Baltimore Who, Two Years Before This Photograph Was Taken, Destroyed His Trainer's Arm
One of the Cleverest Feats of Training Ever Accomplished. Captain Woodward's Seals Have Acquired a Truly Japanese Skill
The Only Tapir Known to Have Been Born in Captivity. The Young Tapir Is One Day Old. The Stripes Disappear with Infancy.
Lopez, Terror of the Zoo. The Most Ferocious Captive in the New York Zoological Park, Who Deceived His Keepers at First by Simulating a Gentle, Playful Spirit.
Powers, and His Motley Group. It Is a Remarkable Feat of Training to Have Brought This Unintelligent and Diversified Group into Concerted Action
Training Elephants in Africa for the Barnum & Bailey Show. Mooney, the Trainer, Develops Their Capabilities, on the Spot, and Selects, for Final Purchase, Only Those of Unusual Intelligence
Dohong and Polly. Dohong Is the Celebrated Orang Utan of the New York Zoological Park; Polly, the Equally Accomplished Chimpanzee
Training a Leopard at Bostock's. But It Really Is Not So Easy as It Appears in the Picture. The Leopard Is a Most Treacherous Pupil
Teaching the Bears to Behave Themselves at School. Taken in the Training Department at Bostock's
Rey, Fils, and His Trained Pigs at Luna Park. Showing a Full - Dress Rehearsal in the Training - room at Mundy's Animal Show
Mousie, the Puma That Terrified New York. Escaping from the Zoo, She Wandered Through Bronx Park for Several Days, and Was Finally Captured in a Chicken Coop
CHAPTER I - THE LOVE OF INVESTIGATION
THE love of investigation must have been born in me, for I remember distinctly subjecting my favourite doll to a surgical operation for the purpose of finding out what was inside her cloth skin. I had already been told many times that it was nothing but sawdust, but then I wanted to see for myself to be quite, quite sure, for, who knows, folks might be wrong; and being told is never so soul - satisfying as having seen. When I found I had been told the truth I did not regret by any means having put my beloved one under the operation, for it was quite easy to put back the sawdust and sew her up again, and I had the supreme satisfaction of knowing for certain that all she was composed of inwardly was sawdust.
My love of animals, especially wild ones, appeared very early in life, and here very often this same love of finding out things for myself led me into serious mischief and many troubles. Perhaps the very first "wild" thing in the animal way I ever saw was a bull on a farm at which my father and I were staying. This bull was kept in a shed, and it seemed to my ignorant little mind an unkind and cruel thing to keep him there instead of letting the poor thing run about in the nice green fields and enjoy the sweet, fresh air. My father was always telling me to do this, and impressing it upon me that that was the only way to grow really healthy and strong.
I thought it over very carefully, and finally concluded that it was a great pity that the poor bull should have no chance to get healthy and strong, and, having pleaded in vain with two or three of the farm hands to let him run out in the fields, considered gravely what was to be done. The farm hands, to be sure, had said he was wild and might kill me if he got the chance; but, looking at him day after day from a safe distance, it seemed to me that he was not wild nor savage, only sad and miserable because he could neither run in the fresh air nor eat the sweet, green grass.
I watched him carefully the whole of one warm afternoon, much in the same way I have since watched all kinds of wild animals from time to time in order to try and discover some new phase of animal life, or to verify some of the statements made in the natural history books. He seemed so gentle and mournful, so depressed and silent, and, even when I went up quite close to him, he was quiet. True, he lowered his head at my approach, and I noted how thick and strong his horns were and that he had curious spots of red in his eyes, but as I stood there quietly and spoke to him soothingly he merely blinked at me in a curious steady way. It was a perfect day, bright and sunny and not too hot, and it occurred to me after a while that it was a pity to lose all that beautiful air and sun shine, and, besides, I was very anxious to get well myself; but it would be too unkind and selfish to go out and leave that poor bull all alone in the dark shed.
I walked round and made careful observations. The door of the shed opened at the back into a field, and I thought I might first open that door and return to my place in the front and unloose his chain. I afterward would follow him into the field and watch him sniff in the delicious air, eat the sweet grass and whisk his nice tail in the lovely sunshine. How he would enjoy it, and how much better he would feel tomorrow for such a treat! I opened the door at the back easily enough, but the unchaining was far more difficult than I dreamed of. In the first place, he was so dread fully rough and impatient, and he twisted his head about in the most awkward manner, so that I could not even get hold of the place where the chain round his neck was fastened together. When I finally did so he did not act at all in the way I thought he should have done after all my thought and anxiety for him, but became quite excited and banged my hand quite hard against the partition.
This gave me rather a shock, and I remember thinking that his eyes were certainly the very reddest I had ever seen. But I was not going to give up just because there were difficulties, so I tried again and, as something at that moment attracted his attention and he turned his head, I was able to unhook his chain quite easily. He did not seem to realise for a few moments that he was free, but in a sudden lurch of his heavy head toward me he saw the open door and the beautiful green field, and, with a toss of his head, a whisk of his tail and a bellow that was heard in the farmhouse itself, he was out of that shed and tearing round the field at a rate that was good to see. I climbed over into the stall and went out at the back door. It would be such a pleasure to watch him enjoy himself after all his dull, miserable days in that dark shed; and I sang at the top of my voice in my joy.
I just remember suddenly meeting my father, hearing an exclamation which surprised me as coming from him, and then feeling him clutch me fiercely round the waist; of hearing a bellow and hoarse shouts, of being knocked over and over and over - how many times! - of having something very, very heavy come down on my head, and then of seeing a tremendous lot of stars and, finally, waking up to find myself in bed with my head swathed in bandages and my father bending over me. I seemed to have some difficulty in remembering things, and my head ached horribly, but after a while I remembered something of what had happened.
"Where's the bull? I asked, and my voice had a curious sound, as though it were a long, long way off.
"Dead, thank heaven!" my father answered, huskily.
"Then he won't get any fresh air after all!" I murmured.
I heard my father laugh in a queer, grim way, as I lost myself completely; and I only returned to consciousness a week afterward to find I had been seriously ill again and that all the tedious getting well had to be begun all over again.
It seemed that the bull's bellow had been heard in the farmhouse and, as they were all beginning to wonder where I was, my father had rushed out into the field, only to be met by the bull, furious and raging. In some unexplainable manner he had vaulted completely over my father and had gone scampering off in the opposite direction. Unfortunately it was a small field, and almost as soon as my father had caught me up the bull was returning full tilt toward us again. We were tossed in the air together first, my father falling lightly on some offal, but I coming heavily on the ground.
Before anyone could reach me I was tossed twice by that ungrateful creature. By that time every farm hand on the place was there with pitchforks and poles, and the bull was speedily forced back into the shed. He was, however, so seriously injured that it was deemed advisable to kill him. Altogether that little experiment of mine cost my father, considering the value of the bull, the damage done and my expenses during my illness, something over a thousand dollars. He never referred to it in any way except to say mildly when in after years I was tempted to do foolish things in this same matter of investigation.
"Don't forget the bull, little woman!"
And I never have, although I have been through just as narrow escapes since then and had just as many and severe shocks, but I always seem to come out all right in the end; and, after all, that is the main thing.
Perhaps the incident which gave me just as much of a shock, in a way, as the bull, was when one evening an old professor of entomology, of whom my father was very fond, called on us and told us he had one of the rarest specimens in the insect world which had ever been known. He carried it carefully in a little basket, and did not once loosen his grasp of it during his visit until it was necessary to put on his overcoat. Perhaps he was afraid of me, for I was curiously attracted toward that basket, and would have given much just to have looked inside.
Being very absent-minded, the professor, when taking leave, took up a book which was lying near in one hand and his hat in the other, unconsciously leaving his precious specimen on the chair. My father followed him to the door, and then I noticed the little basket lying on the chair. I knew it was wrong, mean and unprincipled to do such a thing, but I did so want to see that curious specimen, and in the twinkling of an eye the cover was open a tiny bit and, just as I was peeping inside, something flew out with a wild buzz and stung me smartly on the chin.
I was so terrified that I could not scream, but, with one hand on my chin and the other fastening the basket, I hurriedly left the room and flew upstairs to the nursery, where I asked to go to bed. In an hour's time my chin had swollen enormously, and my father, puzzled and alarmed, called in one or two of his medical friends. All considered it a sting or bite of some kind, but could not diagnose it satisfactorily. The next day, when the swelling had somewhat subsided, my father told me the poor professor had reached home, and then discovered he had left his specimen behind him, and had come all the way back again. To make matters worse, on arriving home the second time the wonderful insect of which he had been so proud and had thought so much had in some mysterious way got out, and so was lost. I felt terribly guilty, and dared not con fess, but years afterward I told him about it, and he was unkind enough to say I richly deserved all the punishment I got!
An investigation which led to a shock no worse than one of disappointment occurred when a small circus came to a quiet country village in Sussex, England. There was a "grand parade," which consisted of one mangy camel, seven horses, so thin and miserable that they must surely have been half starved; two donkeys, ridden by clowns; two red cars, covered up (because it was announced that one contained a fierce grizzly bear and the other one two "wild African lions, real live wild animals!") A noted lion trainer, or "tamer," as he called himself, was to perform with these animals at the evening performances. Naturally, I coaxed to be taken. The performance was not nearly as good as the parade, but the grizzly and the two "wild African lions" interested me the most. I was about twelve at this time and was always reading about wild animals, and, although I had seen many pictures of lions and grizzly bears, I had rarely seen a lion and never a grizzly.
It seemed to me that both the lions and the bear looked unnatural, which called up all sorts of questions and conjectures in my mind. As we were leaving the show I expressed a great wish to see the animals at closer range, and a substantial tip from my father obtained for us this privilege. We were taken round to the red cars at the back and I was told to keep at a safe distance when the man took down the boarding. But I am very near-sighted and I wanted to be quite close; so I edged up again when the man opened the car. The wild African lions were lying down and the grizzly standing up, but the curious thing was that the "lions" had no manes on their heads nor tufts to their tails, and the grizzly merely looked like a very big dog.
The man seemed quite as much surprised as we were and shouted to another man, asking him why the dickens he had taken the "dressings" off so soon? And the man to whom he was speaking, not knowing there were people "behind the scenes," walked up to us with the lions' tails and manes over one arm and the grizzly's skin on the other. Both looked rather foolish. If we people should tell the truth the show was ruined, they explained, and, after all, not many folks knew the difference! And we promised not to mention a word about it; I had satisfied my curiosity, I had found out for myself what I wanted to know, my doubts had been justified, and so the incident closed.
And this love of finding out things for myself; has followed me through life; although I have had some rather severe shocks and very many disappointments, on the other hand, I have had some grand opportunities, an enormous amount of pleasure and profit, and have acquired more useful knowledge than I could possibly have obtained from years and years of book study alone.
This love of investigation, properly directed, is a fine thing, and the study of wild animals, their habits and characteristics, is one of the most fascinating and one of the most contradictory studies which one can take up. Be quite sure that you have discovered some constant generic trait based perhaps on two instances, and you will find perhaps twenty others which flatly contradict those two. Who knows but what it is this very perplexing uncertainty which proves so fascinating? The most intelligent animal in the world is only an animal after all; he cannot consciously tell us anything about himself or his kind, much less his many neighbours in the animal world. It is left to man, therefore, to "find out" and to use all those superior powers which have been given him above the animals in seeing and learning all he can for himself.
CHAPTER II - FIRST IMPRESSIONS BEHIND THE SCENES
IN SOME curious way, first impressions are generally the truest, although in some rare cases this is not so. That first impressions are so vividly lasting is probably due to the fact that they are usually at variance with preconceived notions. Most people are apt to let their imaginations run riot, especially with regard to things of which first - hand knowledge has been denied them.
I have been behind the scenes in zoological gardens - hours at a time in the New York Zoological Park - in the "animal hospitals" (some of the most interesting places in the world to visit), and into the kitchens, or pantries, where the various foods for the many different animals are prepared. But most vivid of all, perhaps, are my first impressions of an animal show. In all zoological gardens the animals are mainly kept for purposes of science, but in the animal shows they are kept for amusement and profit, and the environment is totally different. It is a new world into which few outsiders are permitted to peep, and a very interesting world, not only as regards the animals, but also with respect to the human side of it.
I once made arrangements with the proprietor of a show practically to live in it just as long as I liked. The show was in winter quarters, and I arrived late one afternoon, having travelled all day. The afternoon performance was just over and some of the trainers were standing about in their professional clothes, chatting as indifferently as though risking their lives daily was a matter of no account. I was most cordially received, and after about fifty introductions, until I could not remember which was the chief trainer and which was the peanut man, I was asked by the wife of one of the trainers whether I would not like a cup of tea. It sounded delightful, as I was dead tired and had a headache, and I followed her gladly into a tiny room at the back of the show. It was not more than eight feet square, but scrupulously clean and tidy, and the freshly ironed linen on the bed was good, clean and wholesome. A trunk did duty for a table, and on the top of this was spread a clean, white cloth, tea - things, two new - laid eggs, some bread and butter, and some jam.
On an upturned barrel in the corner was a kettle boiling over an alcohol lamp. I took my wraps off, put them on the bed and sat on it; there was no room for a chair. I watched the little woman bustling about, doing her utmost to give me the best of all she had and make me feel at home. The tea was made and put to stand by the side of the little lamp to draw; the eggs were put into the kettle, and while they were boiling the bread and butter was cut. I was so interested watching the proceedings that I had only vaguely noticed a sniffing nearby. Just as the eggs were ready there was a sudden lurching in of the side of the room which startled me. I looked at my hostess enquiringly.
"It's just the lion," she said quietly, taking off the lid of the kettle and lifting out the eggs.
"But - but can he get in?" I asked nervously.
The trainer's wife stopped to crack the top of the eggs before answering, and to put the kettle lid on again. "I guess not," she said indifferently. "He did get in here one day, though, when I was out, but he soon got sent back again. He knows there is a stranger in here right enough. That's what makes him so restless. Animals are that artful, you wouldn't believe. How much sugar do you like?"
Somehow the eggs and bread and butter, which had looked so tempting only a few moments before, now seemed to choke me when I tried to eat them, and the tea, which I had been longing for, scalded my mouth and throat in my haste to drink it. But I had gone with the intention of facing things, and although I had begun a little earlier than I had expected I managed to appear fairly unconcerned. The lion did not get in that time, or any other time while I was there, but he always resented my presence in that room for some reason or other, and at first it made me uneasy, but long before I left I was as indifferent about him as the trainer's wife, and far more careless.
I remember so well how nervous I was the first few days, for, with so many soft footsteps moving about, so many gleaming eyes watching my every movement, and so many weird cries and noises, it was a tax on one's nerves and a very great strain. And yet now I can go into the New York Zoological Park behind the cages with the keepers, shake hands with the orang-utan, although I know, having had many a good proof, that should he take it into his head to give me a particularly friendly squeeze my hand would be very nearly crushed to pieces. The last time he shook hands with me my hand was stiff and cramped for days. I can also go down into the underground departments of the New York Hippodrome, walk between forty or fifty pairs of horses' heels on either side, and feel no more nervousness than I feel in getting in a car when an impatient conductor shouts "Step lively!" In time I grew to know by the different tones when the animals were really angry or merely hungry or restless, and also to realise that, whatever their state of mind, they were not likely to harm me.
Few people can realise what a different place an animal show is before the public is admitted. The early morning is one of the busiest times of the day. Each trainer takes care of and feeds his own animals with the exception of the public feeding which takes place once a day. On Sundays all the carnivora fast, which is beneficial to their health. Even at the public feeding time each man will generally keep back some dainty bit to offer his favourite animal afterward. Each trainer also puts his animals through rehearsals in the training school or in the arena, either for the purpose of perfecting them in some new act or to teach them new ones. The cages are all cleaned out thoroughly, the walls and floors wiped with disinfectant - the animals meanwhile being transferred to another cage - while clean hay, straw or sawdust, as the case may be, is put in, and the whole floor of the show (in many cases plain earth) swept thoroughly out.
The show people, too, look very different in the morning in their working clothes, and most of the men are expected to turn their hands to anything that comes up, trainers and all. There is painting to be done, scrubbing, polishing up the brass-work, cleaning the harness and, most important of all, exercising the animals, such as zebras, antelopes, goats, llamas, yak, elephants and camels. All animals who are not too wild or dangerous are taken out daily, weather permit ting, to some adjoining fields and exercised in the open air. This is more essential than the best of care and good feeding, and is often the means of saving the lives of valuable animals. But there is a great deal of danger in this. All wild animals are very strong, and yak, zebras, quaggas, elephants and camels particularly so. I saw many proofs of this.
The first time I saw an animal being exercised surprised, amused and frightened me very much. One of the men took a quagga to the field which was at the back of the show, tied him firmly to an iron weight fixed to a staple in the ground, and endeavoured to induce the animal to exercise by making him run in a circular direction as far as his tether would allow him. I watched the two going off, the man appearing to have perfect control over the wild, fierce animal of the desert, and I thought how wonderful was the power of man over animal when exercised in the right way. A few minutes afterward, when my attention was taken up with something else, there was the sound of hurried scuffling, tramping of hoofs, shouts from the men, and the quagga returned at a swinging pace leading the man! So rapid was the quagga's flight that the man, who hung on to the tether like grim death, was lifted into the air every second or so. He happened to swing in this manner as he passed me, and the rush of air combined with a smart tap of his feet sent me over like an india-rubber ball.
I was not a bit hurt, but by the time I had picked myself up and a little crowd of kindly trainers had gathered round me, the flying pair had disappeared through the back of the show, where I was told the quagga found his way into another field for a further frolic. But that man was nervy and he hung on to the quagga until the animal was tired out, and then, with the help of a few other men, persuaded him to return to his cage, where he was permitted to remain for a day or two, it being considered that he had had sufficient exercise to last him for some time. The man meanwhile was laid up in hospital for a few weeks.
Another time one of the camels, who had always been considered a meek, quiet animal, was being led round the field for exercise, when with a hoarse grumble he bent down his head and bit the man through the shoulder several times. This time the intense pain caused the man to loosen his hold and the camel trotted off, paraded calmly through the town, and was not finally caught and led back to the show until 10 o'clock that night.
There was one particularly fine yak in Mr. Bostock's show that had been led out morning after morning, tethered to a staple and left to exercise himself as he would. This had been done winter and summer for over two years and there had never been the slightest difficulty in leading him back to his stable; but one in tensely cold, sleety morning while I was with the show, and when it seemed as though the cutting east wind and sleet would end in a blizzard, the yak seemed to think of his native wild, free home, where he used to stand on the bleakest peak - never too bleak or cold for a yak and he suddenly threw up his heels, kicked violently and, breaking loose, careered round that field, tossing his head and bushy tail, grunting incessantly, and just had the time of his life. It took about half a dozen men three hours eventually to surround him and make him take the direction they wanted him to take. The curious thing was that, although the men tried several times afterward to take him out to exercise, he would never consent to be tethered again. Several times they did succeed in fastening him, but he always broke loose and then there was all the trouble over again. Of course it was splendid exercise for the yak, but the waste of time and the amount of trouble involved was too much, and when he injured two men in one day by flourishing his heels as he passed them it was considered best to stop it, and so the yak lost his freedom entirely.
A still more exciting time was when I was watching about thirty animals being exercised in one large field. I had grown used to seeing animals exercised by this time, and everything was going well. The quaggas were racing for dear life round and round, straining their tethers to their fullest extent; two yak were quietly grazing; the camels and elephants were walking slowly and solemnly from side to side of the big field, led by their keepers; and the llamas, goats, antelopes and liliputian ponies were all behaving as nicely as possible, when suddenly a large van stopped at the back entrance to the show.
It appeared that two tigers and five lions had just arrived from the far-away jungles, but all that could be seen was a number of wooden boxes which looked like large packing cases. Yet those other animals knew instantly. The goats, antelopes, llamas and liliputian ponies went nearly wild, the quagga promptly broke loose and returned without being asked, while the elephants were almost in a panic. Up went their trunks, away went their keepers - for a single toss did it - and with shrill trumpeting they stampeded and tore back into the show, followed by the other animals in wild confusion.
The panic communicated itself to all the other animals in the building and in a few minutes the noise was deafening. The lions roared fiercely, threateningly, for they are intensely jealous and always resent newcomers; the tigers tore wildly round and joined in; the wolves howled dismally, although I had the impression they did not know why they were howling; the hyenas laughed in a horrible manner; some little lion cubs who were hungry and waiting to be fed made the most of the opportunity by sending out their little snapping barks about every second; the elephants continued their trumpetings; the parrots squawked and the monkeys screamed, scolded and howled until it seemed as though they would lift both the roof and the top of my head.
Finally the newcomers were installed in spite of their protests, and after a time the animals settled down to their habitual indifference. But I had learned a lesson. Never again would I stand in an exercising field for wild animals unless a safe exit was close at hand, for, however quiet and peaceable they may appear at one moment, I have learned to know that there is the probability of their wild nature asserting itself without warning, and then we poor humans have nothing to do but flee for our lives.
I had always had the idea that a training school for animals was a large place with all sorts of appliances, bars, etc., but of the half dozen training schools I have seen most of them have been merely strong wooden sheds built out along one end of the animals' cages. These sheds communicated with the cages by a passageway. One side of the school - that nearest the cages was partitioned off by strong iron bars which reached from the ceiling to the floor, and a narrow passageway led to the field beyond where the animals were exercised. In these training schools the animals are given their preliminary lessons before being introduced into the arena, where they are perfected in their performances. Training begins quite early in the morning, and I have often spent the entire day in a show, from 8 o'clock in the morning until 11 at night, and there was so much to be seen and studied that a whole day seemed but an hour.
Each trainer, I found, arranged to have a certain time in the training school as in the arena, and unless each was punctual others were apt to take that time, for with so many animals to teach and train it was looked upon as a great waste of time to leave the training school empty. It is in this training school that so much can be learned of the ways, habits, tempers and individualities of wild animals. I had had the idea that I would just sit quietly in the passageway and look on while the animals were being taught their tricks. But it was all quite different from what I had expected. In the first place, it was not the most restful spot to be in by any means. I was provided with a chair and sat down most of the time, but there were several occasions when it was very necessary to get up - for instance, when some special trick was being shown and the animals insisted on going to the farthest corner to perform it, or when one of the trainers suddenly appeared in the passageway leading some of the animals he had been exercising.
There was very little room for large bodies and flourishing heels to go by without coming in contact with them, and there was not always time to get out one way or the other, so that one's attention was generally divided between the animals inside and those outside who might be expected at any moment. I had many adventures and some very narrow escapes in the training schools, but these must be left for another chapter.
CHAPTER III - HAIRBREADTH ESCAPES OF WHICH THE PUBLIC NEVER HEARS
It is a foregone conclusion that narrow escapes are the frequent experiences of those who have to do with wild animals, no matter how much caution and care may be exercised. But the most imaginative cannot realise how frequent are the accidents which proverbially never come singly. Danger and possible death lurk at each public performance and private rehearsal of a wild animal show, for the apparent docility secured by training is only veneer, and the wild, fierce nature of these beasts is likely to break out at any time. The tinsel and outward glitter simply cover a life of incessant labour, constant danger and hairbreadth escapes known only to those behind the scenes.
In visiting the many zoological parks and wild animal shows two things impressed themselves upon me very strongly. One was the large number of narrow escapes from death about which the public never hears, and the other was that I, though only a visitor, by going behind the runways in shows and private passages in zoological parks, was still in considerable danger from the animals. For, keep in front of the scenes, and you are protected in every possible way; men with wives and children dependent on them will willingly risk their lives to protect or save the outsider from danger. But go behind the scenes, investigate at your own risk, and by your special wish and request, any of these things, and you are liable to be brought face to face with death at any moment, as do so many of these people in connection with wild animals, but who take it quite as a matter of course and never think it even worth mentioning.
This was brought home to me once in a way I am not likely to forget. In one animal show in the South one of the trainers, a quiet man, with any amount of cool courage, arranged to bring three of his fiercest lions into the arena for the purpose of showing me how they were taught to do their tricks. I was sitting on a high stool in front of the arena and had watched two of the lions come in from the back, when the trainer, who was inside the ring with the animals, came quietly toward me and begged me most impressively not to speak or move. I was a trifle puzzled, for I remembered that these animals were accustomed to a large crowd daily, but at this moment I became conscious that something was coming toward me on my right, and then instinctively I guessed what it was.
I kept perfectly still, but turned my eyes slowly, and there, quite close to me, was a big, tawny lion! His mouth was partly open and he was coming forward slowly and quietly. I cannot describe my sensations because I think I really hadn't any! I only know that when he reached me and calmly stopped to smell my dress his head seemed as big as a mountain, and all my flesh seemed turned to ice. He lifted his huge head, looked at me casually - while I looked back as though in a dream - smelled my dress again and walked quietly away. The trainer had hurried out and followed him closely, and with a flick of the whip and a sharp command sent the king of beasts promptly into a cage which had been prepared for him. The whole affair was over in less than two minutes. I was told that my escape was due entirely to my keeping so still and quiet, and that I was very brave; it was not bravery, however, but simply a numbness which overpowered me.
At another time I had a very narrow escape from a grizzly bear in a training school belonging to Mr. Frank Bostock. I had been watching with great interest two bears being taught to stand on a barrel together and to roll it. It was a difficult task and took time and patience, but the little bears did their best, while an enormous grizzly sat in a far corner sucking his paws and humming contentedly to himself in the way bears have. I was so interested in the little fellows that I went over to the bars to watch them more carefully. Suddenly the trainer, Herman Weedon, with a shout first at me and then at the grizzly, dashed towards us. At the same instant I felt a hard, tight grip at my knees and suddenly realised that the grizzly was clawing me and trying to drag me into the cage. I seized the bars with both hands, and when after what seemed an eternity the trainer reached us I felt the terrible clutch loosen and the great beast was driven back to his corner. My stout tweed skirt was quite ruined.
Nothing will so upset a large menagerie or animal show and so endanger those in charge as the advent of strange animals straight from the jungle. The big carnivora are exceedingly jealous - especially lions - and the old ones bitterly resent the presence of newcomers. In one rather small show some new lions had recently arrived, and the performing lions, who had been residents for some time, took it to heart and, instead of being tractable and obedient, instantly became "ugly" - so much so that for the time being the performances were stopped to allow them to become accustomed to the newcomers. It was a period of trials and narrow escapes for all. The new animals were very wild, while the lions were especially sullen, and when wet weather added to the general state of discontent it was decided to turn them out into the arena for exercise. While waiting for the entrance of these animals fresh from their wild state I saw a man go to an iron door on one side of the arena, open it, put a pail inside the arena and close it again. No one else seemed to see the act, and as the lions were heard coming I forgot all about it.
With many snarls and growls and with much shouting and cracking of whips, the runway doors swung open, there was an instant's silence, and then five lions rushed in with such a whirl that I instinctively sprang backward. I have never seen such frantic beasts as, with mouths open and eyes flaming with rage and terror, they charged the high, strong bars, making the whole building shake with the impact. Back and forth they raced, their one thought being to get out and away, while the trainers stood outside the arena, saying in gentle tones:
"Whoa, there, now! Whoa! Whoa!"
Suddenly one lion tipped over the pail; it rolled down the sloping floor, making a rattling noise which added to the fright of the already terrified animals. As they rushed round the pail was rolled from place to place, and when a thin stream of red was seen on the floor the trainers became worried and anxious. Efforts were made to get the lions out before others were wounded, but the entrance to the runway was dark and they were afraid. Time after time they were driven up with poles, only to turn wildly back. No man dared venture into the arena; it would have been absolute suicide. Finally the animals were decoyed to the entrance with pieces of beef, and as blank cartridges were fired they bounded through it in a paroxysm of terror, and the great doors clanged behind them. The trainers wiped their streaming faces and then one went to examine the pail. As he put his hand to the lock of the door he gave a cry that brought everyone to him instantly.
"Boys " he said gravely, "we've had about as narrow an escape as we'll ever have. This door wasn't even locked. It was just latched!"
There was a dead silence. The latch might very easily have opened at one of the many lurches, and we should all undoubtedly have been torn to pieces by the frantic animals. The trainer went forward and took up the pail. Then he burst into a hearty laugh - for in these places danger is forgotten as soon as it is over. The little red stream was paint - not blood.
There was a hairbreadth escape at Bostocks' in Richmond one afternoon when I was there. The woman trainer, who performed with five lions, obtained permission to appear before, instead of after another act in which a motley group of animals performed. Somehow, the trainer of the motley group was not notified of the change, and at the signal proceeded to get his animals into the runway. The woman trainer was doing the same thing, and the first that either knew of it was when the two groups of hostile animals met.
This was about the most dangerous thing that could happen. It takes animals a long time to get accustomed to one another, and none of these animals had met before. Fearless as were both these trainers, they told me later that it was the greatest nerve strain they had ever had. They could not get in front of their animals because it was not their custom to do so, and, be sides, to face animals accustomed to another trainer would have been the signal for instant attack. Suddenly the trainer of the motley group fired four blank cartridges and there was a rush of men to the runway, four shots being the signal that a trainer is in deadly peril.
The audience heard the shots, but were told it was the signal for the men - there was absolutely no danger to the public and the band was ordered to play. Meanwhile Captain Bonavita, the man who performed with twenty-seven lions, and Stevenson went into the runway and risked their lives by climbing over the backs of the animals until they got between the two groups. Shot after shot was fired, and the two bands of animals were driven back in opposite directions. The utmost confusion prevailed, but had the brutes been given a moment to follow their natural impulses there would have been a terrific fight in which the trainers would probably have been torn to pieces.
All were finally caged except a lion, a bear, the boarhounds and a hyena. The lion attacked the woman, his keeper, tearing her arm badly; the boarhounds bit the bear, who retaliated savagely; and the hyena, a vicious beast, crept behind his keeper and bit him slightly in the leg. At the peril of their lives the trainers finally subdued the lion; the bear trotted back himself; the hyena, whose blood was up, was whipped back step by step, and the boarhounds finally slunk out of that runway looking as though they had had more than enough. The strain of conflict seems in some way to temper animals, for although the afternoon performance was out of the question both groups went through their acts with unwonted docility in the evening.
One noted keeper, Thomas Day, had a curious adventure about thirty years ago, when he was keeper for a time in the zoological gardens of Manchester, England. One summer at midnight a lioness got out of her cage and roamed about the grounds. As there was a possibility she might find her way into the town, something had to be done quickly. Day rushed to her cage, picked up her two little cubs, tucked one under each arm and, walking up to the lioness, turned back again to the cage, whither she meekly followed him. By doing this Day ran the most terrible risk, for as a rule a motion toward the cubs is the signal for an attack by the mother.
A newcomer to one of the big shows once had an experience that nearly cost him his reason. He had been warned never to enter the runway alone, but one day he did so while the animals were being exercised in the arena. He had reached the end and was just turning round when he heard the animals coming back. He could already see one lion and, panic-stricken, he flew into one of the cages, closing the wooden door and holding on for dear life. There being no exit in front, he was caught like a rat in a trap. Meanwhile the lion trainer was vexed to find that door closed. It was necessary to drive the lion beyond the cage, which meant that he would probably go beyond it another time and cause annoyance, if not actual danger. When the man inside the cage begged the trainer to save him the trainer understood, but it also complicated matters. The lion, attracted by the man's voice, returned instantly, only to be driven back, for now he must be kept away from that door at all hazards.
The trainer shouted that he would drive the lion to the end of the runway and then the man should slip out and run for his life while the trainer would do his best to keep the lion back. This was done with difficulty, for the lion was puzzled and wanted to get into his cage. Finally it was accomplished and the trainer shouted to the man to be quick. But the fellow had lost his nerve and when he opened the door and saw the lion comparatively close he promptly went back. This was hard on the trainer, for the lion was beginning to resent being kept in the corner of the runway. To make matters worse, the men in the arena, thinking the first lot of animals must now surely be in, turned others into the runway, and the trainer had the sensation of knowing that in addition to the angry lion in front of him three others were at his back. He was now in deadly peril, for while he dared not turn his attention for a second from the angry beast he was facing, it was almost as necessary not to ignore the others.
There was only one way out of it. Shouting to the men to open the gates into the arena, he called to the imprisoned man to keep his door closed. With a sharp crack of his whip he forced the other animals to return and, with his back to the side of the runway, managed by a dexterous turn of his whip to hit on the flank the lion he had been fighting. With a wild bound the lion flew past, and then the trainer, having them all in front of him, drove them back into the arena. When the animals were safely in he returned with others and rescued the man, whom they found huddled in the cage, sobbing hysterically and nearly insane from fear.
CHAPTER IV. – PERILS OF THE RUNWAY
A pretty girl trainer once had a narrow escape while a great audience sat quietly looking on, never dreaming that only a low board partition separated them from one of the fiercest leopards in the show. The girl had just begun her career. She had passed the stage of fear but had not yet acquired the knowledge that one walks with death every second where wild animals are concerned. One night after her performance one of her four leopards slipped upstairs into the sleeping quarters unobserved. The young trainer went to her room, and as the performance was still going on she did not light the gas, as there was sufficient light coming in over the low wall that commanded a view of the auditorium. When undressed she stooped to pick up some clothes and touched a furry body. Thinking it was the lion trainer's pet cat, she began to stroke it gently. When her hand did not come to the end of the cat's back she suddenly realised that she was stroking a leopard, and possibly a strange one, and at that moment the great head turned and two gleaming eyes looked into her own. The horror and danger of the situation came home to the girl. She dared not call out, and in a flash she knew that her only chance was to keep quiet and remain perfectly calm.
"Quiet, Kitty, quiet," she said gently, hoping it might be her favourite leopard. It was not, but it was one of her own leopards and her voice did not alarm him. Knowing her advantage if she could face him in a strong light, she backed to the wall and lighted the gas before the leopard roused himself. The great beast merely turned over on his back with his paws in the air and stared sleepily at the flickering gas. The trainer had her whip and pistol in hand now and stood waiting for him to attack her or - far worse to leap over the low partition into the audience. At this moment a man's footsteps were heard coming along the passageway, and at the unfamiliar sound the leopard with a light spring turned and crouched for attack. The woman called gently to him, and the man outside understood. He said calmly that the people were nearly all out and if she could keep the animal quiet for a few moments longer it would be all right, and he went on.
For ten minutes the young trainer stayed alone with the leopard, and then the footsteps of many trainers were heard. The leopard evidently knew what was coming and with a bound he was over the partition in the midst of them. Blank cartridges were fired and he was directed downstairs and into the runway after a vast deal of trouble. Once there he refused to enter his cage, and the young trainer had to come down to force him in, receiving a severe scratch, for by this time the animal was thoroughly out of temper. Never again was that girl the least bit careless.
Surely Providence was on the side of a serenely unconscious public when in October, 1900, three black-backed jackals, who are among the most treacherous and vindictive of beasts, got out of their cage in the zoological gardens, Manchester, England, and promenaded the whole length of the grounds. The door of their cage had been left open in some unaccountable manner, and after their walk through the grounds they went out by the Lake Hotel exit; when about two or three hundred yards off they stopped and had a romp among themselves. After their play they returned toward the gardens and were met by a boy, who turned one back - whether he knew what animals they were is doubtful - but the other two returned calmly by the same exit as they had left and continuing their way toward their cage re-entered it without any further trouble. The third animal was afterward caught and taken back to the gardens, the marvellous fact being that although three jackals had been in the public highways for several hours not a human creature had been frightened or hurt.
* Verified in Peel's "Zoological Gardens of Europe"
The most marvellous escape that I ever actually witnessed myself was at Richmond, Va., in Bostock's Animal Show. Captain Bonavita, the only man in the world who has ever had the temerity to perform with twenty-seven lions at a time, had been obliged to stop his performances for a while owing to the bad temper or "ugliness" of his lions caused by jealousy over some new arrivals. One day when he considered that the worst of their ill temper had worn off he decided to rehearse them for a public performance after the show was closed.
When the arena was ready he had considerable trouble in getting the animals out, and when the first one finally appeared it was not in the slow, stately manner in which he usually entered, but in a quick, restless way, which showed he was still in an excitable state. He was followed by seventeen others, all in the same nervous condition. Instead of getting on the pedestals in their usual way, the lions, with one exception, a big, muscular fellow, began to sniff at the corners of the arena, where the newcomers had been exercising, and every moment added to their rage. Their fierce natures were excited by jealousy, and it soon culminated in rage and passion, so that when one lion presumed to go over to a corner and follow up the sniffing of another the latter turned upon him and bit him savagely. The other promptly retaliated, and in the twinkling of an eye they were fighting fiercely. The temper of the others flashed up like gunpowder, and almost instantly seventeen lions were engaged in a wild, free fight.
The one big fellow who climbed on his pedestal when he entered still sat there, and at this moment the remaining nine lions appeared in the arena followed by Bonavita. The animals rushed forward into the battle; the big lion with an ugly snarl leaped from his pedestal into the thick of the fray, and in an instant twenty-seven lions were fighting with teeth and claws, their gigantic muscular strength augmented by rage, passion and jealousy. And in the midst of it all stood one man, calm, self-possessed, but with every nerve and muscle at their highest tension, for he knew better than anyone else that his life hung in the balance.
Bonavita vainly tried to regain mastery over the fighting beasts. The lions were no longer the puppets of a show; they were the monarchs of the forest, wild and savage. Seeing his power gone, he did his best to save his own life. He succeeded in getting out, thanks to his wonderful nerve - for he had to jump over the backs of the fighting animals - but in doing so he received a deep wound in the shoulder. There was nothing to do but let them "fight it out," which they did. For nearly two hours that awful battle raged, while I grew sick and faint, but when the lions were exhausted Bonavita, wounded as he was, went in and drove them into their cages. And here I may say that never once have I heard this man, although I have talked to him when he must have been suffering agonies, even complain of pain. He takes all things in any way connected with his lions philosophically and as a matter of course. Many of the lions after this terrible fight were seriously injured and had to be treated for wounds, cuts and tears, but they had fought themselves out and the next week went through their performances as mildly as kittens.
Personally I consider my own narrowest escape - with the exception of the time when one of the big elephants at the New York Hippodrome encircled my waist with his trunk - was when I went into the runway with Captain Bonavita. This runway is the passageway for the animals from their cages to the arena. It is closed with an iron gate, and at intervals there are little wooden doors across it. Should an animal get out into the runway, the trainer closes one of these doors - if he is quick enough - and although the small wooden partition is but a frail protection against an infuriated wild beast, still it gains time and often saves a human life. When we entered the runway and the great iron gate clanged behind us, I realised that our sole means of exit had been closed and that only the wooden doors of the cages separated us from their wild occupants. Most of the animals seemed to be asleep at first, but when we were fairly in, we heard the sound of soft footsteps, and much sniffing and scratching at the cage doors. As I passed one door it lurched toward me alarmingly. Bonavita, with a sharp order, gave the door a rap with the heavy loaded end of his whip, which caused it to return to its place with a snap, while a savage growl came from behind it.
By this time nearly all the animals were aroused and there were sounds of leaping and restless footsteps, with continued sniffing. The trainer took hold of one of the little wooden doors dividing up the runway, shut it, and then with a quick, dexterous movement took it off its hinges, and presented it toward me as a shield. On one side of each door was a wooden handle, as otherwise a trainer's hands could be torn away at the first touch. The sound of the removal of the door roused the animals to the highest pitch of excitement. Bonavita spoke in a peremptory manner, calmly refixing the door, and we went to the end of the runway. I confess I was very glad when we came to the end and turned back. As we returned the movements grew wilder and wilder, and as I passed each door it seemed as though the animal in side were throwing himself against it. Just as we went through the big iron gate there was the crash of breaking wood and one of the lions leaped into the runway!
Bonavita gave me a gentle push toward safety, locked the gate, and went back to meet the animal face to face. The lion stood with gleaming eyes and tail extended behind him - always a bad sign. There was the crack of a whip, the report of a pistol, and when the smoke cleared away, Bonavita was smiling as he nailed up the door. He took down the sign which he had hung up at our entrance, "LIONS OUT - NO ADMITTANCE," brushed off some bits of dust from his coat, and calmly remarking that it was his dinner hour, asked me in his courteous manner to excuse him and went off as though nothing at all unusual had happened, which I have no doubt in his eyes was the case.
I was told an amusing story by a very well-known circus man, that came near to having a tragic ending. He said that at one time he was travelling, when by some unaccountable accident the glass case in which he kept his big snakes got open in some way, and one by one the snakes wriggled out. It was warm weather, and most of them settled on a railway bank in the sun, gliding under some low underbrush. A countryman, wishing to eat his frugal dinner on some comfortable spot, settled on the very underbrush in which the snakes were lying.
It appeared that he had been to a spiritualistic meeting in his village the night before, and had been much impressed by the demonstrations of the medium. Among other things, the medium had told them that when the spirits wanted to make themselves known, they were apt to make the subject of their attention uneasy and uncomfortable, and so unsettle him that it would be impossible for him to keep still. The countryman was still full of this subject, and as soon as he sat down felt vaguely uneasy and uncomfortable, and - having previously had some beer - had the curious sensation of being lifted up and down. After a time he heard a hissing noise, and felt sure that the spirits were surely coming. He sat perfectly still, and presently almost in front of his eyes there appeared a snake's head with wicked eyes, then another and another! He forgot the spiritualist and the medium, and with an awful yell fled for his life. A few yards off he met the circus man, who asked him if he had got "the hump."
"No!" the man said, with a wild air, "but there's millions and millions of snakes down there, and although I've only had two glasses of beer I've got 'em again."
All these snakes were finally captured, and restored to their cage with the exception of one, which was not found or heard of for six months, and then finally discovered by an old woman in her bed! She promptly took it out, put its head into a pail of water and proudly showed the dead body to her neighbours. Whether the snake was stupefied at the time, or already half dead from cold and hunger, will never be known, but the old woman at once became the heroine of the village, and people went to visit her to hear her repeat over and over again the story of how she killed the big snake.
Narrow escapes are almost monotonously frequent in the life of the animal trainer, and it would be impossible to give even a tenth part of them in this book, but there are one or two others worth recording here, and which I know to be absolutely true. Miss Claire Heliot, the lion trainer who made such a sensation in Leipzig some eight years ago, and who has lately been performing with twelve lions at the New York Hippodrome, was going through her performance one day when one lion caught his claw in the lace of her sleeve. This was a little matter, but when he could not get his claws disentangled promptly he lost his temper, struck fiercely at her arm two or three times, and inflicted some terrible wounds. Finally he caught his claw again in the skirt of her dress, and it required all her presence of mind, strength and courage to prevent herself from being dragged to the floor. And all this time the audience were vastly amused, as they thought it all a part of the performance!
Another time, she was playing with her lions in their stable at the close of the performance, and stretched out her foot. In an instant a lion caught hold of her slipper, and had she not been extremely dexterous, the animal would surely have torn her foot terribly. Playing with lions is a dangerous sport at any time. Once I watched her push up the skin from the claws of her lions to show me how large and sharp they were, and I noted admiringly how calmly and gently she stroked one of those big, passive paws. But one day, when I attempted a like liberty with a sleepy - looking lion, the paw turned with the quickness of lightning, and instead of a soft, furry paw, there were the big pads and the five large terrible claws poised waiting for me to give them an opportunity to tear my hand to shreds. I need not say I did not attempt it again.
I saw a funny, but almost fatal, incident once in an animal show, when one of the men was sent to wash out the arena. As it happened, two new tigers were to be turned in to be exercised. As the man got just inside the little door of the arena, a tiger walked in from the back. For a second man and tiger gazed at one another, both about equally surprised. Then the man dropped his pail with a crash and darted for the door in terror. Almost simultaneously the tiger, scared at the noise, started, turned tail and dashed off in the opposite direction. There was a great laugh over this, but for all that it was a very narrow escape.
Perhaps a more amusing tale is that of the man who thought to steal a ride on a freight train, and then discovered he was travelling with wild animals. He was almost paralysed with terror, and sat without moving all night long, hearing with agony the movements of some wild beast in the same compartment with him, and praying with all his heart that he might be spared to live until the morning. And when the morning came, he found he had been shut in with a performing mule, and that the wild beasts were in the next compartment, strongly walled off! What makes this story still funnier is that this man repeatedly tells this story as being one of the narrowest escapes he ever had in his life!
CHAPTER V - PHOTOGRAPHING WILD ANIMALS
Most people will realise the dangers and difficulties in connection with photographing wild animals in their native environment, but few even think of the many and almost insurmountable difficulties and the risk incurred when photographing wild animals in captivity.
Mr. William T. Hornaday, Director of the New York Zoological Park, says: "There is no royal road to photographing wild animals. It is easy to make a picture, but to make a good picture is difficult, and to obtain one that is perfect is an achievement to be proud of. To secure a good picture the animal must stand in the proper place to afford a good light and a good background. The securing of these conditions often taxes the ingenuity of both keepers and photographers to the utmost. In the New York Zoological Park we have found that it is quite impossible for even the best photographer to secure good pictures by making exposures from the walks or between the bars of enclosures. It is our experience that good photographs of animals can be secured only by going into their enclosure, or else by building a place in which to make exposures through an aperture. Of course it is dangerous for a photographer to enter the enclosures of wild animals, even when attended by keepers, to control the beasts or hold them at bay."
Exactly how dangerous it is for one to enter the cage or den of a wild animal for the purpose of photographing it, has been proved very forcibly - and more than once - by Mr. Elwin San born, the official photographer for the New York Zoological Park.
At one time a fine white leopard had been added to the collection, and as soon as it appeared to have settled down, the authorities decided that a photograph should be taken of it. To all appearances it was a fairly quiet creature - nervous and timid, to be sure, but without any sign of temper. The keeper had entered its cage several times, and beyond hissing and spitting, the wildcat had taken no further notice of him. Therefore, when Mr. Sanborn followed the keeper, neither was surprised that it took matters quietly and much as a matter of course. The camera was set up, carefully adjusted, and when, after the usual delays, the animal happened to get in a good position, several good negatives were taken and the thing was done.
But as he was shutting up the camera, Mr. Sanborn, without thinking, shuffled his feet once or twice on the wooden floor. Like a streak of lightning the wildcat, with a hissing snarl, leaped at him, and before he realised what was happening, the leopard's two forepaws had clutched one ankle as in a vise and the brute was trying to sink his teeth into the foot. Both the keeper and Mr. Sanborn, with shouts and sticks, succeeded in beating off the animal, and beyond a few scratches no harm was done. It can readily be seen, however, that this might easily have resulted in a very serious accident, if not in loss of life.
At another time, Mr. Sanborn resolved to take a photograph of one of the llamas, an animal which is generally considered to be a fairly docile creature, with nothing particularly objectionable about it beyond its habit of spitting. In this instance he took a keeper with him, not as a protection, but as a helper in herding the llamas together, or in coaxing one to move to the place best adapted for getting a good photograph. Nothing out of the way happened until the work was finished. The last picture had been taken with this particular llama posed at the point farthest from Mr. Sanborn. Just as it was finished, the llama revealed his true character by suddenly springing forward, and before there was time to get out of the way Mr. Sanborn was dashed to the ground, the llama was on top of him, and in spite of the keeper's frenzied efforts to beat him off, the brute inflicted several severe injuries before he would give in. The camera box had been driven so forcibly against Mr. Sanborn's face that a sharp edge of it cut his upper lip as completely in two as though slit by a sharp knife. He was cut, scratched and bruised, and felt the effects for weeks.
I heard of one case - I think I am right in saying it happened in the Zoological Gardens in Berlin - when a lioness and cubs were being photographed, and the lioness, evidently nervous and uneasy at the appearance of the camera, deliberately killed and ate one of her little ones before anything could be done to prevent her, and when the keeper attempted to interfere, turned on him savagely and inflicted severe injuries. More accidents have resulted from this seemingly easy matter than is ever dreamt of, and I realised this myself when I first witnessed a photographer at work with an animal show where I was studying.
"Taking the animals' pictures" sounded so easy, and I thought that in one morning we should get through with the whole matter. Instead, at the end of a week spent in hard work we had just eight photographs, taken at the cost of infinite time, trouble and patience; and of these eight, three were useless. It was decided that the first trial should be with five lions and their trainer - a woman. Anxious to make a good picture, this trainer had sat up for three nights making herself a new gown of white organdy, pretty and dainty enough for a fashionable garden-party.
Trouble began early, for the lions refused to come into the arena. They seemed to know it was not the usual time for a performance, but, after half an hour's hard work, they finally entered slowly and unwillingly. Trying to rouse them the trainer touched one lion lightly with the whip. He struck at the whip gently with his paw, as though to put it out of his way, his claws caught in the light dress and the whole skirt was nearly torn to shreds. This necessitated a postponement until the dress could be pinned up, but when this was done the five lions were on their pedestals and everything was ready. A long whip held by a trainer outside the arena hung over each tawny head, the trainer took her position, and the signal was about to be given, when it was noticed that the largest lion was going to investigate with his huge paw a new bow on his trainer's head. The woman, of course, was in imminent danger, for lions do not touch anything lightly. His paw was already out when he got a smart flick from the whip nearest him. Now, as it happened, this lion was usually touched with the whip only when he refused to get down from his pedestal at the end of an act, and only rarely then, because it ruffled his temper.
In this case it had the desired effect - it diverted his attention - but unfortunately he took it as his cue to get down, and so came to the ground with a heavy thump, promptly followed by all the others. In vain the trainer coaxed, threatened, and commanded. He evidently thought the performance was over and absolutely refused to do anything more. So, with many tears of disappointment, the trainer had to postpone the photographing to another day.
It is difficult enough to photograph one wild animal, but when it comes to a group the difficulties increase tenfold. The group was tried the next day and the next. The second day the flashlight so frightened the lions that they sprang off their pedestals and rushed round the arena roaring terrifically, and their excitement so aroused the other animals that all photographing had to be put off to the following day. The third day the picture was taken just as the big lion was evidently meditating another investigation of his trainer's headgear. There was much the same excitement as before, but the photographer managed to take a picture a moment before it began.
To restore peace it was decided to photograph some of the quiet animals. The yak and the camels appeared indifferent to the whole matter and their photographs were easily taken, but one of a group of three elephants made lots of trouble. He manifested the most intense curiosity about the camera and wanted to examine it with his trunk. Farther and farther back the photographer drew his camera, but each time the elephant advanced and so put out the whole group. Finally he was given a small bottle - one of his tricks was to drink from a bottle - and while in this act the photograph was taken. Then we all went round to the llamas. Their intense curiosity made it easy to get their attention, but just when all was ready two of them made up their minds that the photographing party was an unfriendly one, and opened hostilities by spitting at us. It is the llama's chief means of defense, and a most unpleasant one. All drew off hastily, and while the necessary process of cleansing was going on the camera was forgotten.
The big elephant, however, was still interested in the apparatus, and walking up to it clumsily tried to pick it up and sent it crashing to the ground. This added to the general confusion, and in the midst of it all a quiet voice from the gallery announced that the baboon had escaped. This baboon was generally kept chained up just outside the door of one of the trainers' rooms. This particular trainer was trying to tame it, and as it was a savage brute everyone else kept out of its way. After a hot chase the big ape was caught, to our great relief, and order was restored. But when I was leaving the show that afternoon I found this same baboon cowering abjectly before an ordinary cat, who sat on a barrel in front of him with his hair and back raised in the most threatening manner, spitting and swearing his hardest. The baboon could have killed that cat with one bite of its strong teeth or one grasp of his hands, but the cat kept just beyond his reach, and seemed to enjoy it.
A motley group consisting of lions, tigers, boarhounds, etc., gave infinite trouble. As soon as some of the animals were placed, others got down from their positions, and the first time the flashlight was used there was real pandemonium. Two large tigers and the polar bears also gave as much trouble as they possibly could. The tigers would not stay in their places, the polar bears would fight, and the time, patience, and trouble involved can be appreciated only by those who have actually witnessed such scenes. It is safe to say that the trainers took more risks during this photographing than at any other time of that week's rehearsals and performances.
This fact was most forcibly brought home to me when I was present recently at the photo graphing of Captain Bonavita and some of his lions at Coney Island. It will be remembered that this trainer (who used at one time to enter the arena alone with twenty-seven lions) had been wounded severely more than once in encounters with his lions. His most awful experience took place on a very hot day about two years ago, in Bostock's Animal Show, and will be remembered by a great many. There was nothing very unusual in the manner of the lions on this particular day, except that a few were surly, and even this was not really exceptional, for with so large a number one or more are almost sure to be out of temper, for lions, like humans, have "moods" and many of them.
It all happened very suddenly. The lions were all in, the two doors had been closed upon the trainer and his herd, and with light flicks of his whip Bonavita went to and fro among the animals, that being the cue for them to mount their pedestals. Naturally, with so many in the arena the trainer finds it impossible to keep a close watch on each lion. In turning from one lion toward another, the trainer was suddenly conscious of some huge tawny body towering over him; the next instant, he had received a crushing blow, and Bonavita's most dangerous lion, Baltimore, was on top of him with deadly intent. Bonavita has never been known to lose his presence of mind in an emergency, and in this instance he fought hard, for he knew well how desperate was his plight. With his right arm he did his level best to beat the brute back, but the lion caught his arm in his great mouth and crunched it until every bone in the hand and wrist were broken.
There is no need to go into the horrible details of this accident. It is well known that the man was laid up for months with the most awful nerve-racking suffering, and that after many futile efforts to save it, the arm had eventually to be amputated. It took nearly a year for this trainer to get back to his normal condition - if indeed he ever has; and yet it was with this very lion, Baltimore - who is still angry and resentful for some reason - that I saw him photographed. It was difficult enough to get the other lions to take up their positions, but Baltimore gave more trouble than any of the others. He was surly and morose, and yet the trainer posed him standing with his forepaws on a wooden seat in the centre, and then sat directly in front of him! Several negatives were taken, but at one grouping, just as the photographer was going to press the bulb, Baltimore turned toward Bonavita and deliberately opened his huge mouth. This actual photograph is reproduced on a preceding page. In an instant, although he was not facing the lion, the trainer had sprung out of harm's way, and only just in time; but the picture was taken, and I consider it a very valuable one.
One would have thought this was enough for any man, but no! One or two more were taken, during which I was so intensely nervous I could scarcely look on. The lions were tiresome, too, in every way. As soon as they were grouped first one would get up and then another, or one would move a leg, so that it would give him the appearance of having only three in the photograph, while another would begin to wash his face or lick his paws, all of which, of course, stopped everything as it made continual movement for the time being.
At one time when after infinite trouble all was ready, one lion seemed to suddenly notice the camera, and getting up hastily went straight for it, nearly knocking the whole apparatus over. It is necessary, in order not to reproduce the bars or wire netting of a cage, to put the camera quite close, and in this case they do not show at all. This camera was, therefore, quite easy to get at. Having an example set them, of course the other lions also came forward, and the whole grouping had to be done over again. At another time someone began hammering at one side of the show, and this meant an instant movement in that direction of all the lions' heads, and the getting up of two of them to investigate. This photographing took nearly three hours, and I was heartily glad when it was all over and the trainer once more came out safe and unhurt.
It was quite a relief when the little chimpanzee was photographed. There was nothing dangerous in this matter, but the poor little animal's distress was pitiful to witness. For some reason he was terrified at the camera, shut his eyes tightly every time he looked at it, and cried bitterly just like a child. In vain his keeper talked, coaxed, and soothed him; it was only once when he was startled by a sudden shout, that he opened his eyes for a minute to see what it was, and the picture was taken.
The proceedings ended by my being photographed with a young leopard on my lap, but it was not much of a success, as he was a savage little brute, and it took all my time and strength, for he was wonderfully strong, to keep his sharp claws away from me.
CHAPTER VI - ANIMALS'INDIVIDUALITIES
TO THOSE who take the trouble to study the subject, the individuality of wild animals is an unceasing source of wonder, interest, and sur prise. You may study fifty animals of the same kind - say, lions, tigers or bears, and you will find that no two of a kind are alike in either temperament or disposition. Take lions to begin with. I have carefully studied a group of twenty-seven performing lions, and found a marvellous difference between them.
Lions are peculiarly like men in their dispositions. Quiet, silent men are generally slow to anger, but when they are roused, it is a far more serious matter than the ebullition of a hasty-tempered man. I remember a lion in this group who demonstrated this very forcibly. He was quiet, phlegmatic and stupid, to all appearances, and even when flicked with the whip - a rare thing - appeared perfectly indifferent and remained as stolid and stupid as before. His trainer - Bonavita - was teaching him, or trying to teach him, a new trick one morning, and after many fruitless trials and unlimited patience considered it time to administer a reprimand. The reprimand consisted of a light flick on his nose with the whip, and it was a mild one, but the transformation which followed was a surprise to all who witnessed it.
In the twinkling of an eye, the animal's whole nature seemed to wake up. His stolid look disappeared as if by magic, his eyes blazed, his mane bristled, and with tail straight out and muscles tense, he gave a roar which shook the building, and sprang straight at the trainer. It was entirely due to the trainer's agility that he was not killed. As it was, his coat was torn and his arm severely scratched. He got out of the arena quickly, but was only just in time. Once aroused the lion soon roused his brother captives to the same state of excitement, and it was with the greatest difficulty they could be quieted in time for the afternoon performance. Meanwhile, the hitherto calm, placid animal tore round and round his cage like a mad creature; and when his rage died down he was morose and sulky for weeks.
An abnormally large lion, Mars, objected to having his head touched, and it was found impossible to punish him in any way. It was a case of "Hands off!" or serious consequences would ensue. Another lion had a curious way of his own in mounting a pedestal. The others would climb slowly up, turn round and sit down, but this one would first of all smell the pedestal cautiously, think about it a little, turn round twice, and then mount like the others.
Merrimac, another large Nubian lion, always tore out of the runway into the arena as though terrified, and this was probably caused by an incident which happened several years ago. As Bonavita was taking this lion back to his cage one evening, all the electric lights went out, and he had the unusual and unpleasant knowledge that he was alone in the dark with one of his most savage animals. In order to defend himself, the trainer kept swinging his heavy club in a circle, and as the lion once or twice ventured too near, he got some severe blows on the nose. A full account of this incident is given in Mr. Frank Bostock's book on "The Training of Wild Animals." ("Frank C. Bostock. The Century Company, New York.)
Another lion, Denver, was always ready for a fight. Any provocation would do, and in many cases no provocation at all. This was the lion who started the fight among all the lions at Richmond, when the whole twenty-seven joined in. The well-known lion, Baltimore, who nearly killed Bonavita, at Coney Island, in 1904, and was the cause of the latter losing his right arm, is to all appearance a quiet, tractable animal, taking very little notice of what is going on, and doing all his tricks mechanically. But this is nothing but deception on his part. He is actually one of the most crafty and treacherous of lions, and notwithstanding his indifferent manner is ever on the lookout for an opportunity to get the better of his trainer. It is the same with all the lions; no two are alike, but each has a distinct individuality, and shows it in more ways than one.
There was one lion at the New York Hippodrome who interested me very much. He was good-tempered and usually on the best of terms with his trainer, Miss Claire Heliot. Curiously enough, an exception was at the very time when one would have expected him to be in the best of good humour. It was Miss Heliot's habit to feed her lions herself, and this she did in a unique way. She would take a small piece of meat, and telling each lion to open his mouth would put it inside with her fingers. This particular lion would take the meat, but his rage and viciousness were astonishing to behold. At no other time did he evince the slightest sign of ill-will, and was one of the best performers. I asked his trainer if he had ever bitten her.
"Oh, no," she said quietly, "he never bite, Lions seldom bite, but he scratch me all the time. When he perform he try to scratch me every time I pass him!"
Judging by the deep marks she showed me as souvenirs of his "scratches," he did it pretty thoroughly.
There is a lion now in the Zoological Gardens of Clifton (Bristol), England, who, after much trouble, time, and patience, was trained as a circus performer, and sent to the Chicago Exposition. He had never been a willing pupil, but as each animal has its own way of learning some will learn a trick in a day which will take others weeks, and perhaps months - nothing was thought about it. An unwilling pupil has often been known to make the best performer. But when the opening night came, Prince suddenly refused to go through his performance. No coaxing, talking, or persuasion had any effect. His obstinacy was unmovable, and his decision unmistakable. When every means had been tried to induce him to alter his mind, he was finally sold to the Zoological Gardens at Clifton, where he has gained for himself the name of being the most quiet and amiable of lions.
Elephants show their individuality very strongly. There is a fine female elephant in the Zoologischer Gärten, Frankfort-on-Main, Germany, who is devoted to her keeper. The Director, Dr. Seitz, has occasion sometimes to reprimand the keeper for various reasons, and this the elephant seems to resent. She will trumpet at the first words of reproof, and has tried more than once to get at the Director, showing every sign of ill-will and a desire to do him some injury. At all other times she is a quiet, gentle creature, whom the children love dearly.
Another peculiar instance of much the same kind is to be found at the Zoological Gardens at Hamburg, Germany. Here there is a huge male hippopotamus, who is considered a fairly quiet, tractable animal. But here again, let him see the Director, Dr. Bolau, and he goes nearly wild with rage. There is no reason for this whatever, but no matter how placid the animal may be, the moment Dr. Bolau comes in sight he makes a dash for him, and there is no doubt would do him some injury unless prevented.
In the Barnum & Bailey Show there is an old elephant who has been there for a great many years. Betsy is still strong and healthy, but either from old age, or for some other reason, her trunk is partially paralysed, and she is unable to put the tip of it into her mouth. To get the food she first swings her trunk to and fro, holding the wisp of hay or straw tightly meanwhile. When she has obtained a good impetus, she will throw the food upward and catch it adroitly in her mouth. A keeper once tried to help her by stuffing some hay into her mouth, but she promptly resented this insinuation of her feebleness, dropped the hay on the ground again, and threw it up as before, catching it in her old way. This is the only elephant in all the large herd at this circus who will not lie down to sleep. She always rests herself against the wall, and remains like that quietly until morning.
Another elephant in this same show is extremely nervous, and when frightened seems unable to get over it. Mr. Mooney, the trainer, once took his elephants in to perform, but something went wrong, and out went this elephant at full swing and never stopped until she reached her corner of the stable. It was curious to see how ashamed and guilty she looked when the trainer found her, but the fact remains that never since that time can she be induced to do that particular act; and so the trainer's best performance is out of the programme until she either gets over her fright or alters her decision. This same trainer has an elephant possessed of the unique characteristic which is called, in show parlance, "trunk-proud." This means that on no account must any one touch this elephant's trunk. Even when tempted with peanuts and other delicacies, this animal will only condescend to put out the extreme tip of her trunk with great caution, even then often drawing it back hastily, as though afraid of being touched.
Bears always appear to me to have strong individualities. President Roosevelt mentions this in "Pastimes of an American Hunter. He says: "When I used to hunt grizzlies my experience tended to make me lay special emphasis on their variation in temper. There are savage and cowardly bears, just as there are big and little ones; and sometimes these variations are very marked among bears of the same district, and at other times all the bears of one district will seem to have a common code of behaviour which differs from that of the bears of another district. Readers of Lewis and Clark do not need to be re minded of the great difference they found of ferocity between the bears of the upper Missouri and the bears of the Columbia River country; and those who have lived in the upper Missouri country nowadays know how widely the bears that still remain have altered in character from what they were as recently as the middle of the last century."
An old grizzly in the Clifton Zoological Gardens has a habit of climbing to a little landing half way up his pole. Putting one paw round the pole and nestling close up to it, he will stay there for hours at a time. No offers, however tempting, will induce him to come down, and he seldom alters his position until he gets up to leave the post.
I have seen a certain huge bear in the Bostock Show given large pailsful of warm bread and milk, and watched him lick it up greedily, taking care that no scrap was left in the pail. This seemed to be his favourite food, and yet the curious thing was that whenever he saw any other pail near him he always evinced the greatest rage and resentment. Whether he thought it ought to have been brought to him with some bread and milk, I do not know, but he was always cheerful enough when his own pail was brought to him.
I have watched for hours at a time the bears in the New York Zoological Park, and each time I see some new proof of the individuality of animals. A small black Japanese bear is the most amiable little creature, and always ready for any little bit of fun that comes his way. A big, brown bear is never happy unless he is fighting, or pretending to, and another one in the same cage is always doing his very best to avoid a row. It invariably ends in the bigger one getting his own way, and after an exciting scrimmage it sometimes terminates in both tumbling into the pool of water.
A curious instance of a complete change of feeling, and which is strikingly suggestive of human nature, was told me by Dr. Frank Baker, Superintendent of the National Zoological Park, of Washington, D. C. He says:
"I send you herewith a photograph of an Alaska Peninsula brown bear (Ursus dalligyas), whose change of attitude toward a Yakutat bear, much smaller than himself, may perhaps interest you. The large bear had for some weeks been occupying a yard about forty feet square, when the smaller bear was brought in. The larger animal was so thoroughly afraid of the smaller bear, although she had not at tempted to do him the slightest harm, that he ran wildly against rocks and the bars of the fence until finally the keepers were obliged to remove the smaller bear. A few weeks later the two were again put together in the same enclosure, and the large fellow then at once tyrannised over the other and has continued to do so ever since. As an indication of the strength possessed by this large bear I might mention that he caught the female with his teeth by the skin over the middle of the back, lifted her at least six inches clear of the ground and set her down in another place, then appropriated to himself the food which she had intended eating and which he wished to have. The female weighed at that time about 370 pounds and the large bear about 800 pounds."
In this same park there is a harpy eagle which has been there for seven years. This bird shows his individuality by his marvellous self-possession. Nothing disturbs him, nothing excites him, nothing can even make him look up unless he wishes to do so. This is all the more remark able because harpy, bald, and golden eagles are noted for being easily excited and alarmed by the slightest incident. In their native state they. are always on the alert, always quick and ready to notice the smallest movement, and when not watching keenly for prey may be seen sailing high up in the sky in the early morning, or wheeling in circles over and over the thick forests. These birds are called by the Spaniards the "King Eagle" and by the Aztecs the "Winged Wolf." But the harpy eagle in the Washington Zoological Park, whose photograph we reproduce, is not disturbed in the slightest degree by anything. His composure is wonderful, even his keen eyes showing no sign of interest or excitement.
Just outside the Cliff House in San Francisco there is to be seen every morning, or was up to the time of the last earthquake, a large, full grown seal, who goes by the familiar name of "Ben Butler." This remarkable seal, or sea lion - for I have this on hearsay only - is so old that when dry his hair is as white as snow. Not a morning does he miss, but always sits on the same point of rock, where he is watched by an admiring crowd every time he appears.
There seem to be various opinions as to whether seals and sea lions are vicious or not. I know they are extremely curious and anxious to find out things for themselves, as I have had a personal proof of this. I went to the New York Hippodrome one morning to see how Captain Woodward trained his seals and sea lions, and was told to stand on a wooden box in a corner, while a large piece of scenery was placed across the corner for two reasons. One was that the sea lions' curiosity would prevent their attending to business, and the second was that these animals can bite severely with their sharp teeth. Everything went well until in the middle of a trick one of the big fellows left his pedestal and made straight for my corner. It was all done so quickly that the screen was knocked to one side and the sea lion was searching for my feet before I realised what was happening. I protected myself as well as I could by my skirts, and beyond some damage done to the lining of my long coat I was quite unharmed. Twice he did this, but his master explained quietly to me that sea lions often did a little biting just to find out what an object was made of!
I noticed a remarkable difference in the dispositions of these animals. One was slow, sleepy and indolent; another was quick, eager and more than anxious to do his tricks, scarcely having patience enough to await his turn; still others would sometimes do what they were told instantly, and then again would not seem even to know they were being spoken to. One clever little seal, Toby, appeared wonderfully intelligent and seemed to understand every word that his master said to him. When scolded he would hang his head and wobble it about as though overcome with remorse; when praised he would toss up his nose, bark cheerily and put on airs at once.
The intelligence of these animals struck me as wonderful. Of course I fully realised that it was the same with them as with all other trained animals. No work, no reward, or rather with them, "no work, no fish," for seals and sea lions will do anything to get a piece of fish. At the same time to see one of these creatures balance first a billiard ball on his nose, on the top of that a long stick, and on that a piece of fish; to watch his precision of touch and wonderful appreciation of distance as he carries all three evenly balanced on that small nose of his across the floor, and then climb on his stand, give the whole three a shake, which causes the fish to fall, and then to catch it adroitly in his mouth - all this is more than enough to make one realise that seals and sea lions are marvellously intelligent animals.
Gazelles are always considered gentle, timid creatures, and the gentlest and most timid of all is the Dorcas gazelle. And yet there is a Dorcas gazelle in the New York Zoological Park who certainly has a most distinct personality. For, although only two and a half feet high, he is a thorough villain as regards temper and vicious ness. This small creature, who looks so tiny and fragile, has already put three men in the hospital, laying them up for weeks, and quite lately, when resenting some fancied insult, he broke one of his antlers completely off. Yet he is just as eager and ready to fight as ever. At present, however, he is in the hospital laid up for repairs, a situation he resents bitterly.
The individuality of animals is markedly shown in their varying methods of attack. Take a number of lions and no two of them will attack their trainer in the same manner. This I have actually seen for myself. One lion would always creep slowly toward the trainer on all fours, another would spring suddenly, another would draw back a little, preliminary to springing, and so-forth.
About the individuality of animals generally I cannot do better than to quote the following authorities, who have all made the most careful and painstaking study of the subject:
Mr. William T. Hornaday says: "In the matter of disposition wild animals and birds are no more angelic than human beings. In every family, in every herd and in every cage, from tigers to doves, the strong bully and oppress the weak and drive them to the wall. Of all the quadrupeds deer are the greatest fools, wolves are the meanest, apes the most cunning, bears the most consistent and open-minded, and elephants the most intellectual. Of birds, the parrots and cockatoos are the most philosophic, the cranes are the most domineering, the darters are the most treacherous, the gallinaceous birds have the least common sense, and the swimming birds are by far the quickest to recognise protection and to accept it. The virtues of the higher animals have been extolled unduly and their intelligence has been magnified about ten diameters. The meannesses and cruelties of wild animals toward one another form a long series of chapters which have not yet been written and which no lover of animals cares to write."
Dr. Seitz, in a letter to me, says: "The existence of idiosyncrasies among animals is a fact. "
And President Roosevelt sums up the whole matter when he says: "It cannot be too often repeated that we must never lose sight of the individual variation in character and conduct among wild animals."
CHAPTER VII - THE YOUNG OF THE WILD
ALL young things are attractive, especially the young of the wild creatures, and for me they have a curious fascination. In their first infancy these babies seem to have little or no savageness, no treachery or vice of any kind. Like human babies, they are too young and feeble to show of what stuff they are made. To my mind one of the prettiest things in the world is a lion cub. With his sturdy, tawny, little body, his thick, heavy paws, his straight tail and remarkably well-shaped head, he is a thing of beauty. The faint dark spots with which he is born disappear after a time, and his first dazed glances about him - all lion cubs being born with their eyes wide open - soon give place to a very wideawake look; and when he mews, or attempts to move about during the first few days of his existence, he is certainly most fascinating.
I once saw three little lion cubs a few hours old and I have never forgotten them. The mother was extremely nervous, and great care had to be taken, as lionesses have frequently been known not only to kill their little ones through nervousness, but actually to eat them. One of the three little cubs was too weak to stand on his legs, and the odd way in which he would tumble down and then try to gather himself up was too amusing for words. Every time he tumbled over he would mew faintly as though a little puzzled, and every time he gathered himself together he would give a little guttural cry as though of satisfaction.
At another time in Mr. Bostock's animal show there were two little sick lion cubs suffering from convulsions. They had been put in a wooden box with some clean straw, and the keeper attended to them every hour. It was a pitiful sight to see these small babies of the forest, with their big, muscular limbs drawn up, convulsed and shivering with agony. The keeper was as gentle and tender with them as any mother with her sick baby, but all he could do was to hold them until the paroxysms were over or try to pour some specific through their clenched jaws. These convulsions are caused by cutting the first or milk teeth (for lions have two sets of teeth), and many cubs die from them. Those that recover from teething convulsions are said to be specially strong, healthy animals and to thrive even better than those that have not had them. Whether this is a fact or not I cannot say. I used often to take a peep at the little creatures, and my heart ached for their suffering; but one day when my attention was taken up with something else, I felt a sudden sharp pain in my ankle, and there was one of those little lion cubs tearing at my foot in the most savage fashion and barking angrily! He was better, and proved it in so many savage little actions that he and his brother were taken back to the cage and their liberty was over.
It is one of the prettiest sights in the world to see lion cubs at play. The daring liberties with their mother, the sudden skipping away after a particularly audacious act, and their cries when she gets out of patience with them and administers a reprimand, are very comical. In Mundy's Menagerie at Luna Park, Coney Island, last summer, there were eight little lion cubs in one cage with two puppies. All seemed friendly and playful, and in their occasional scraps together the puppies appeared well able to take care of themselves. Mr. Mundy told me, however, that they would not be able to stay with the lion cubs long, because the latter would develop their strength rapidly and their natural savageness would be liable to crop out at any moment, when it would fare badly with the little dogs.
As a rule, lions breed freely in captivity. In the Zoologischer Gärten, Leipzig, Germany, sixteen lion cubs were born in the year 1901, and the Zoological Gardens of Bristol, England, are noted for the large number of lions bred there. The same applies to the Zoological Gardens in Dublin, Ireland, where one celebrated lioness, "Old Girl," gave birth while in the gardens to no less than fifty-five cubs! I think I am right in saying that this is the largest number ever produced by one lioness in captivity. Of course, occasionally a lioness will refuse to nurse her young ones, and in this case a foster mother is provided. In the Dublin Zoological Gardens a lioness named Hypatia had three litters of cubs and refused to nurse any of them. The third litter was nursed by a fine milch goat the first three days, and after that an Irish red setter took her place as a wet-nurse.
It appears to me that young leopards or tigers are not nearly so playful as lion cubs. Leopard cubs are not nearly as clearly marked as the adults, the spots are very faint, and instead of being brilliant and glossy in many cases the colouring is nearly uniform and dull. I have not seen a black leopard cub, but there was a curious instance in the Zoological Gardens at Amsterdam, Holland, where a female leopard of the ordinary colour gave birth to one black and one spotted cub. In some cases a black cub has appeared among a litter of spotted ones, this seeming to prove that black leopards are only a variation. Whether black or spotted, however, all leopard and tiger cubs appear to be savage and spiteful.
Hybrid cubs appear to be the most aggressive, savage little animals. I saw some fine young hybrids at Barnum & Bailey's show at one time - the result of mating lion and tiger - who were constantly fighting without cause or reason, evidently simply for the pleasure of fighting. This seems rather curious, as when lion and tiger cubs are put into the same cage there seems no particular disposition to fight. In the Dublin Zoological Gardens two lion cubs and two tiger cubs lived for some time in the same cage without the slightest sign of ill-will.
Few have ever seen the young of a tapir, but there is a fine specimen in the Zoological Gardens in Philadelphia, which when first born was covered with dark stripes and was a pretty little creature. This is a rare instance, as tapirs are not only difficult to obtain, but have only bred in captivity on one or two occasions. The mother seemed quiet and gentle and allowed herself to be photographed by Dr. Robert Carson, the Superintendent of the gardens, who kindly sent me the photograph here produced from his own negative.
As a rule, a young elephant is never very small, never very playful and it seems to me not very interesting. Although generally full of mischief, he keeps close to his mother, waves his small trunk to and fro, up and down, as though he had been accustomed to doing it for years, and is about as stolid a specimen as can be found anywhere. Occasionally the mother will caress it with her trunk or trumpet a little if she is a trifle uneasy about her offspring, but beyond these few indications of maternal care there is little of interest to observe. Coco, a young elephant in the Barnum & Bailey show, is some three years old and about as mischievous a specimen of a young wild thing as I have ever seen. His small, nervous trunk is always poking into places where it does not belong, pulling down the gas pipes, tearing down the electric wires, pulling up the board partitions, and one night he was caught in the act of turning on the faucet of the great hot-water tanks.
Clumsy, ugly and apparently uninteresting is a young hippopotamus. It is, if possible, even more ungainly than its mother. Beyond moving stolidly about and looking around with its tiny eyes it appears to do nothing, although when older it will cut clumsy antics which are highly ridiculous. Even when first born the indications of muscular strength are remarkable, and it is interesting to study this animal if for this reason alone. A young hippopotamus which was born in captivity weighed forty pounds at birth and was a strong, healthy specimen. There is a young one in the Central Park Zoo which is also a good specimen, thoroughly healthy and strong.
A baby camel is a curious object. He appears to be all legs, and very long legs, too. The youngest baby camel I have ever seen was about three hours old, while another one in the same show (Barnum & Bailey's) was three days old and weighed about twenty pounds. Another young camel, about five days old, was a pretty little fellow with a pure white coat as curly as a young lamb's. His queerly shaped head, his mouth with the protruding lip, and his eyes, which had the appearance of having just been opened, made him a very interesting little fellow, and his mother's love and keen anxiety lest any harm should come to him were pathetic in the extreme. Every time he stumbled, which he did incessantly, she caressed him tenderly.
Bear cubs are interesting little things, but are rarely reared in captivity, although in 1879 two Himalayan bear cubs were reared successfully in the Dublin Zoological Gardens. This was at that time without a parallel in any Zoological Gardens' history and evoked a great deal of controversy in the newspapers and among scientists. The three Syrian bears in the New York Zoological Park were not much more than cubs when they arrived, and are not yet full-grown. It was the male of this lot which nearly killed his keeper on the 4th of May, 1906. All three, however, are strong and healthy and seem likely to reach old age in captivity, judging by appearances.
The young of deer are most beautiful little creatures. Most fawns when born are covered with dark, velvety spots, and their slim, delicate limbs, beautifully formed bodies, well-shaped heads and dark, liquid eyes combine to make them the most attractive and loveliest specimens of young in the animal world.
I have never seen a baby giraffe, and probably never shall, as these animals get more scarce and expensive each year. But several giraffes have bred in captivity. In the Jardin d'Acclimation, Paris, a herd of giraffes was received from Abyssinia in 1872 and bred several times in the gardens. Also in the gardens of the Royal Society of Zoology in Antwerp a young giraffe was born in 1871, another in 1873, another in 1875 and yet another in 1876. I have never yet met anyone who has personally seen a baby giraffe, which is the next best thing to seeing it one's self. In these same gardens at Antwerp. were also born no less than twelve hippopotami babies between 1886 and 1900.
The young of the llama are pretty little things, with short, curly wool (not a bit like the mother's long, silky hair), small heads and slim, delicate limbs. In their native state it is a common thing to see the young of two successive seasons being fed and cared for by the mother. As a rule they live amicably, but in many cases the elder is exceedingly jealous, and then the younger one has a hard time of it. Generally, however, when this is the case the mother drives the elder one away. I saw two young llamas in the London Zoological Gardens a few years ago and several in various places since, and they have all been pretty, playful and most inquisitive.
Perhaps the cubs of the sloth bear are about the most ungainly little objects in the animal world. They are certainly ugly, uncouth little creatures, and perform the most absurd antics. When too young to walk (I am now speaking of them in their native state) the mother will lower herself until the cubs get on her back and then carry them wherever she wants them to go. But this is done in the clumsiest way. The sloth bear is a clumsy animal at all times, but in this case she does not appear able to go more than a few steps without tumbling her little ones off her back. However, she generally waits until they have scrambled up again, and the ambling and tossing continue as before,
One of the most amusing sights is a baby kangaroo. I have seen quite a number, but I once saw one only a few days old in one of the large animal shows. This is rare, because as a rule the young one does not leave its mother's pouch for some time, but just peeps out at the outside world occasionally, darting in again at the slightest sound or the least warning from its mother. This little kangaroo hardly seemed like an animal; it was a tiny, soft, helpless thing, seemingly half lifeless, about two or three inches long. I was only able to look at it for a few seconds, as its mother caught it up and returned it hurriedly to her pouch, where except for a feeble movement occasionally it seemed as though dead.
One young one about eight months old used to peep out, work his tiny, flexible mouth round and round as though sniffing for danger, drop his forepaws, jump out of the pouch, look round again, give one or two hops, by way of exercise, and then with a terrified air spring back to the pouch, draw himself down instantly and never even look out again for a long time. Whenever he did this the mother's soft eyes would take on a frightened look, her cleft lips would work convulsively, and she would occasionally show her white, strong teeth, and when the young one returned to the pouch she would utter a soft sigh, the only sound a kangaroo is able to utter, and appear greatly relieved. There were four little baby kangaroos in the Zoologischer Gärten, Cologne, Germany, kept in a glass case, which were extremely interesting.
I once saw some pretty little puma cubs in the Royal Zoological Gardens, Amsterdam, Holland, and they were just as playful and good-tempered as a pair of young kittens. One rather tyrannised over the other, but it was all in play, and there was no scratching or any disposition to quarrel among them, although occasionally the mock fights were somewhat rough. Young pumas are just like young kittens, with the exception of their colour. President Roosevelt says that the young (of the cougar) - two to four in number, though more than one or two rarely grow up - follow the mother until over half-grown. The mother lives entirely alone with her kittens while they are small. As the males fight so fiercely among themselves, it may be that the old he-cougars kill the young of their own sex. A ranchman whom I knew once found the body of a young male cougar which had evidently been killed by an old one; but I cannot say whether or not this is an exceptional case."
Little seals are interesting sometimes, replicas of the mother, who, except for feeding them, does not seem - I am speaking of those I have seen myself - to be very affectionate or very careful about her offspring. Not very many are born in captivity, but there is a fine, healthy specimen in the New York Zoological Park.
Wolf cubs vary in temperament greatly and in appearance are just like young puppies. Owing to their inability to bark they make curious little noises which are difficult to characterise, and sometimes have the fiercest fights among themselves, biting and scratching each other very severely. The mother looks on at these scrimmages as though it were a thing not to be helped, but when one cries out for help she will occasionally give one or more of them a sharp bite or two.
The young of the buffalo* are graceful and pretty. They are of a reddish-brown colour, this coat changing in the early fall for another one of a darker hue. I saw a little buffalo at the New York Zoological Park in May, 1906, only one hour old. The little creature stood feebly on its legs, spread out to their greatest extent, and looked all round with an enquiring air, while the mother, who was fearfully savage, did her best to hide it from the keeper, Mr. MacInroe, and myself by keeping her body in front of it, no matter which way we turned. This made it very difficult to see anything but its four legs, but as soon as we left them we looked round and dis covered the little one taking its first meal as nonchalantly as though it had been doing it for years.
*About the buffalo Mr. William T. Hornaday says: "A true buffalo is an animal with no hump on its shoulders, and is found only in Africa and Asia. Our animal, having a high hump, is really a bison, but inasmuch as it is known to seyenty-three millions of Americans as the buffalo it would be quite useless to attempt to bring about a universal change in its popular name. There is but one living species."
There is at present a young monkey in the New York Zoological Park that is extremely interesting. He has a small, pale face, with a worn, troubled, anxious expression upon it, which impresses one with the idea that he must have a world of care on his shoulders. His ears stick away from his head like the ears of many small boys, and his quick, agile movements, his mischievous actions and his sudden rush to his mother whenever there are signs of trouble are all suggestive of the human child. In some wonderful manner the mother seems to understand all the keeper says to her. For instance, she may be sitting quietly at one end of the cage, apparently taking no notice of the little one who is playing at the other end. But let the keeper go near the cage and say, "Where's that baby?" and instantly she will spring forward, catch up her little one, slap it on the head as though she meant to imply it was all his fault, clutch it tightly to her and, with both arms folded round it, look back at the keeper with disdain and defiance written on her face, muttering under her breath all the while. I thought at first the mere presence of people excited her, but I find that unless the keeper says these words she will not notice him. Moreover, unless the keeper asks for the baby she is on the best of terms with him.
Few have had the privilege of seeing a baby orang-utan, but those who have declare it is even more human in its actions than a young monkey. It will hold on tightly with its long, slim fingers to its mother's long, red hair. The mother-love in an orang-utan is remarkably strong, and, like all wild animals, it will willingly face death itself in order to protect its young. The orang-utan in the New York Zoological Park came there in its mother's arms, and when his mother died from sheer inability to adapt herself to her new surroundings and circumstances he nearly died, too.
Of all the extraordinary little creatures in the world, however, the young duckbill is perhaps the most remarkable. The duckbill is an egg-laying mammal and an inhabitant of Tasmania. It has a flat, oval body, covered with short, close fur, a deep dark brown on the top and a pale brown underneath. Short, dumpy legs terminate in curious webbed feet, with five toes armed with strong nails. Its head is flat, the eyes are very small, the ears invisible and the bill strong and flat like a duck's. This animal generally lays two small, white eggs in strong, flexible shells, and from these eggs, which the mother covers with her warm, furry body just as a hen does, come forth curious little creatures, blind and naked, with soft, short bills which open continually in search of food; the little, webbed feet are of a pale-yellow colour. For some time the mother feeds them as all other mammals feed their young, but as soon as the little ones are older and have eaten up what remains of the eggs from which they have been hatched she gives them snails or slugs or any other dainty she can find in the nearby water. Needless to say, I have never seen the young of a duckbill and cannot find out whether they have ever bred in captivity or not. Some Australian friends of mine have seen them in the wild state, and say they are most interesting.
CHAPTER VIII - THE TRAINING OF AN ANIMAL TRAINER
It is difficult enough to train wild animals, but in many cases it takes infinitely more time and patience to train their trainers. Such necessary qualities as firmness, courage and coolness at critical times must be innate in the man who would be a trainer, and no amount of training can give them to him; but, even possessing these, there is much for him to learn. When a man enters a show with a view to be coming a trainer he begins by attending to certain animals, finding out and studying their various characteristics and idiosyncrasies, while he in turn is also carefully watched. Very few men who do not talk to the animals ever make good trainers, but there are exceptions to this, notably Captain Bonavita, who never speaks to his animals except to utter a command. But he is a man of extraordinary ability as a trainer.
What has always struck me forcibly is the wonderful equality found in animal shows. There seem to be no distinctions. With a few exceptions, all take their meals together in the large kitchens at long tables, and when one considers the various nationalities, the former occupations and lives of some of them it is marvellous how well they agree. As to the matter of making distinctions, this would be a difficult thing to do, for the small boy who enters the show to sell peanuts and candy is quite as likely to turn out to be an animal trainer and a star performer as anyone else, provided he stays long enough.
At one time an Irishman entered a show as a helper with the hope of becoming a trainer. He was extremely careless until one day when he had his coat and a small piece of his back neatly taken off by a tigress. He was more careful after that, but he did not forget the scratch and whenever the opportunity presented itself he would give the tigress a prod with a bar or strike her in the face. The proprietor of the show stopped this immediately and told the man that anyone who could cherish a feeling of revenge against a wild animal would never make a trainer. The man took it in good part and never again teased or ill-treated the tigress, which was looked upon as greatly in his favour, and yet in time when he became sufficiently acquainted with the animals to stroke them he did it too much and too often.
One day he was playing with a young lion not much more than a cub - and had been throwing a ball to him and then taking it away. The little lion was good-tempered and was enjoying the game immensely when the man got a little rough, and the cub, somewhat excited, refused to give up the ball. Instead of keeping calm and insisting on having it in a quiet, firm manner, the man lost his temper and gave the cub a cuff on the head. It was a very light one, but the lion knew it was given in anger and resented it instantly. His cubhood vanished and he flew at the man and caught his arm. Here was the man's opportunity. He should never have left that young lion until he had shown himself master. Two experienced trainers advised him to conquer the animal with calmness and patience before coming out, but his blood was up; he cuffed the cub in earnest, and in a very few minutes the affair was becoming dangerous. Fearing a serious accident, the trainers took the cub away and the man vowed he would never tackle that lion again, thus proving by his own words that he would never become an animal trainer. He left the show shortly afterward and was succeeded by another Irishman.
The newcomer was a small, quiet man, of somewhat delicate physique, with a shock of light, curly hair, which immediately gained for him the nickname of "Curly." His ambition to become an animal trainer always caused a broad smile, but finally after much pleading an amiable little Japanese bear was given to him, and in a few weeks "Curly" had taught the bear three tricks. This, of course, was creditable, but it was no proof that he could cope with a lion or a tiger, and "Curly" was still laughed at in a good-natured way, when suddenly his opportunity came. It was in the middle of a peaceful morning; the chief trainers hurriedly gathered, silent and anxious - always a sure sign of serious trouble - and an imperative order came to close all doors; the fiercest and most treacherous leopard in the show had escaped and was roaming about somewhere.
Two hours passed without any sign of the leopard, and the managers grew worried lest it had strayed into the town - a very serious mis hap for any show. A consultation was being held, when suddenly "Curly's" voice was heard outside. No notice was taken of it, for they knew that he had been exercising some animals in the field. Then one of the trainers, thinking that "Curly" was bringing the animals back and that the leopard might attack them, called out: "Keep 'em back, 'Curly'; keep 'em back!" "What are yez talkin' about?" was "Curly's" answer in a curious, strained voice. And at that instant the leopard appeared, backing sullenly, eyes flashing, ears laid flat and his gleaming teeth exposed as he watched vainly for an opening to attack. The ugly brute was followed by "Curly," not the quiet, delicate man they all knew, but a wiry, vigorous little fiend, with mastery, determination and will power plainly written on every feature. Step by step he drove the leopard back, and only at the end did the older trainers help in getting the animal into the cage. After this there was no more question as to "Curly's" fitness to become a trainer, and he became one of the best of them, his coolness and courage in times of sudden peril saving scores of lives.
These emergencies are the rocks upon which are shattered the hopes and ambitions of many a would-be trainer. There are plenty of men able to train and capable of keeping their nerve in a public performance who lose it completely when menaced by sudden danger. Once a large, powerful coloured woman, apparently free from "nerves," went into a show as a snake charmer. All went well until in a performance one evening a large moccasin bit her in the neck. In an instant her nerve was gone. Flinging the snake from her with a scream, she rushed from the arena, while the helpers came in, caught the snakes and carried them off. She was badly bitten, and after recovering from the resulting illness could never be induced to perform with snakes again.
Her subsequent career shows admirably the vicissitudes of show life. She became a lion trainer and performed with four animals. After two years one of her lions went "bad" - which generally happens about the tenth year of a lion's life - and attacked her furiously. She was badly hurt and would never thereafter appear with wild animals. At this time curious white patches appeared on her skin and she went into a general show as a "freak," remaining there until she was entirely white, only certain indications, such as her kinky hair, features, etc., proving that she belonged to the coloured race. She then returned to the animal show as a helper in the kitchen, and she was still there the last time I heard of her. From "star" to kitchen helper in three years is unusual, but by no means unprecedented.
When it is believed that a man will make a good trainer severe tests are applied to him to prove his ability in times of danger. An animal will be turned loose in the runway - with plenty of help at hand - or a sudden shock will be given him during a performance. One man while performing suddenly found his whip missing. This would have meant an attack of nervousness in many trainers, and nervousness is always instantly detected by animals in some mysterious way. In this case the trainer coolly asked that another whip be passed in to him, and when told that one could not be found, immediately closed his performance. Of course he did not know until later that it was a test.
Another important fact which animal trainers have to learn is that animals in the cages when the man is outside are often very different creatures when the man presumes to enter their abode. One of the primary instincts of all wild animals is to resent intrusion, and this remains with them even after years of training. Watch any trained animal when his trainer enters either the cage or the arena, and in nearly all cases you will note an instinctive inclination to resent his presence.
A case which illustrates this point very forcibly was told me by an old circus man who had lost a leg in a fight with a wild animal. He said that it had always been his custom to give one or two taps on the wooden door of his animals' cages before releasing them to enter the arena, but that one day when answering a question put to him by one of the men outside he forgot to do this. Before he realised what was happening he was knocked down by his quietest and most amiable lion, and it was with the greatest difficulty that he could drag himself up and away from him. The lion had evidently thought some stranger was coming and had promptly flown at him as soon as he opened the door. When the lion recognised his master he seemed ashamed and confused.
I have noticed on many occasions how greatly the personality of a trainer influences the animals. For a weakling animals appear to have nothing but contempt, and of a man lacking in personality they take no notice. A command from such would have no effect whatever, whereas a man with a strong will and dominating personality has at once influence and authority. Physical courage, of course, is one of the first requisites for an animal trainer; yet ordinary courage is not enough, for, however courageous a man may believe himself to be, he can never be absolutely sure whether that courage will not ooze out at his fingertips when he finds himself shut in alone with wild beasts and face to face with creatures who can as easily tear him limb from limb as a cat tears the unfortunate mouse.
Many of the bravest soldiers, men of distinguished careers, have admitted feeling faint and genuinely frightened at the first close sight of the enemy. No man can be absolutely sure of himself in such emergencies at any time until he has thoroughly schooled himself and gained complete mastery over himself and his feelings. And no man can do this until he has proved it many times by going through hazardous and daring tests. Good personal habits count for much, and without good personal habits no man can ever become a trainer of wild beasts. He must be superior in every way, and complete self-control and absolute patience - no calling on the face of the earth calls for much greater patience - are two essential qualities of a life of constant nerve strain and much physical suffering. One of the most difficult things to instil into a man who wishes to be an animal trainer is quietness and coolness. Once a man allows himself to get worried or flustered or to lose his temper - as with the case of the young lion cub - he is at a disadvantage which the animals recognise and are only too ready to take advantage of. And should he enter the arena feeling nervous or unstrung he may be very sure that his animals will know it and he will be lucky if he gets through the performance without an open revolt.
It goes without saying that all trainers in the making receive many minor injuries from the animals. Lions, for instance, are clumsy creatures and stumble over the least obstacle, and their first instinct is to put out their claws and catch hold of anything that happens to be nearest, and in many cases the nearest thing happens to be the trainer. When caught in this manner the trainer's only hope is to keep cool and try quietly to free himself from those terrible claws. Sometimes the animal frees him by drawing the claws out himself, which, although a fearful thing - as he invariably draws them out in a curve - is better than holding on to the trainer, for the mere physical power of any man is without avail against a wild animal.
Many a man who perhaps has gone through a preliminary training with every evidence of becoming an excellent trainer has given up all thought of following that career after a few accidents. For accidents with wild animals are always serious, more or less. I have been shown deep lines like furrows in the flesh and told they were "scratches," red and drawn patches, the result of some bite or tear, muscles drawn up until the limb was all out of shape, and in one man's arm a deep dent, so deep that it looked as though he had a hole in it. This was the result of a lion making his teeth meet right through the arm. No wonder, then, that so many, after suffering agonies for weeks at a time and perhaps losing the use of a hand or arm, make up their minds to give it up. But this course of training never seriously harms any man unless it cripples him; on the contrary, it does him good. It makes him alert, courageous; he is compelled to practise self-control in many ways; it teaches him patience, and gives him a knowledge of wild animals from personal experience which many people who write books never acquire.
I was assured by a well-known trainer that all animal trainers have a marvellous influence and control over other people. I do not believe it, because I have carefully investigated this little fallacy. For instance, one of the best-known trainers, whose influence and dominance over wild beasts are more than wonderful, has no authority whatever in his home. His wife rules him royally, he is timid with the servants, and as for his children he is as wax in their hands. A kiss from baby lips or a caress from childish hands and he becomes a willing slave.
CHAPTER IX - STAR PERFORMERS
THERE are many star performers in animal shows, both among the trainers and the animals. The animals who have developed into star performers are not of any particular class, kind or disposition, and it is impossible to form the slightest idea of what an animal will turn out to be until he has actually performed in public for a number of times. Some believe that a quick animal, and some that a slow one, is likely to make the better performer; but in this, as in so many cases, it is not safe to generalise.
A lion, a bear, a tiger, a leopard or jaguar may be one of the most exemplary pupils for a time and then suddenly refuse to do anything in the way of a trick again as long as he lives. In nearly all groups there is one particular animal who is relied upon by his trainer to do well and to help and encourage the others, and for a long time, perhaps years, he does his part faithfully - does it until his trainer ceases to pay quite as much attention to him as the others, and then there invariably comes a day when that very animal will prove himself as treacherous and as cruel as any of the others who have been watched so carefully. And this is what makes a star performer among the animals such a dangerous creature. Some, of course, are excellent performers, yet never fail to show their hatred and viciousness. In such cases the danger is considerably lessened from the fact that they are continually watched for signs of treachery.
In many groups so much reliance is put upon the special performer that without him the trainers will often refuse to give a performance. It is a well-known fact how greatly one animal will influence another either for good or bad. Let one animal do something a little unusual and the rest will follow like a flock of sheep. I know of a motley group where the best and most good-tempered performer was a quiet, slow, phlegmatic sloth bear. Many a time I have watched the other animals give trouble while the old sloth bear would sit quietly and patiently on her pedestal and, if kept waiting very long, amuse herself by sucking her paws. And yet there came a day when, for some reason unknown, she developed an ugly mood, and - what was worse still - she had chosen about as bad a time as possible in which to show her ugliness.
It is sometimes deemed advisable with a group to let the animals out in the runway about ten or fifteen minutes before the actual performance. This gives the animals an opportunity to let off their superfluous spirits and have a little frolic before settling down to serious work. (Needless to say, no group is ever kept together when not performing. *) The animals are apt to continue this frolic for some time, perhaps in definitely, while an impatient audience is waiting, if let straight into the arena. The fact of being interrupted and driven into the arena after about fifteen minutes of this play takes off their attention and turns their thoughts in another direction, and they are far more likely to pay attention to their trainers.
* Except in the case of a "happy family," which does not usually perform. - AUTHOR.
The day the old sloth bear made eventful had commenced in the morning with a free fight among the mixed group when turned into the arena for exercise. The group consisted of two half-grown Nubian lions, one Bengal tiger noted for his savageness, two hyenas, three brown bears, one little Japanese bear and two pumas. It had taken months of hard work to perfect this group and this was the first time that anything like a free fight had taken place. During the fight the sloth bear had kept as quiet as usual, and except that she appeared somewhat interested when things grew exciting had not evinced the slightest inclination to join in. But at the afternoon performance she made things lively indeed!
In the first place she took her time coming into the arena, and then also took her time about getting into her place. However, this was thought nothing of, and the act went well until the critical part of the performance came, which consisted in making the tiger jump over a hurdle. This act was what is termed a "thriller," for the trainer ran the risk of being torn to pieces. It always began by fierce resistance on the part of the tiger, constant insistence on the part of the trainer, and generally ended by a pistol being fired into the animal's face, when it would finally vault lightly over the hurdle, and then make for the trainer, who warded it off with a wire shield. It was always considered wise at this point to open the doors at the back of the arena and let the tiger out; and as soon as he was safely in his cage, the others would all go out together.
The usual preliminaries had taken place, the tiger had been made to vault over the hurdle, and the trainer was defending himself as usual with the wire shield, while the doors were being unfastened, when without a moment's warning, the old sloth-bear got down, lumbered over to the trainer and deliberately fastened her teeth and claws in the back of his leg! She could not have chosen a more inopportune moment, and nothing could have saved the man had it not been that at that very moment the tiger heard the click of the doors being opened, and following his usual custom, with a savage, throaty growl, rushed out and into his cage. The trainer then turned his attention to the bear, speaking to her, and then using the whip. After biting and scratching him severely, she suddenly let go and raced round the arena in her clumsy fashion, bumping against the other animals, and finally knocking over two chairs. The two pumas - never much good as performers, but always ready for a bit of play - got down at once and raced after her, jumping over her back, rolling on the floor, and thoroughly enjoying themselves.
In a few minutes all the animals were racing wildly round and about the arena, more excited and scared than anything else, but absolutely paying no attention whatever to the trainer's commands. For a few minutes it looked simply like a bit of rough play. But wild animals of so many kinds could not be expected long to play peacefully. It soon culminated in another fight, which was thoroughly enjoyed by the old sloth bear. She seemed to have changed her nature completely, and capered about- if such awkward, clumsy ambles could be called capering - as nimbly as the rest of them. When, finally, the trainer considered it necessary to punish her with the whip, she showed as savage and fierce a nature as the tiger himself, and turned on him. The performance was promptly closed, the arena doors were opened and the animals, after much trouble, sent back to their cages; but never after that was the sloth-bear allowed to enter the arena.
This was not so bad as when the star performer of a group of lions suddenly went "bad" and nearly killed his trainer, or when the chief sea-lion who did all the best tricks killed another sea-lion in a fight, and finally died himself from the effects of his injuries. There is only one thing to be done in these cases. It sounds very simple, but is exceedingly difficult. It is to train another star performer. In some cases a substitute is trained, ready to take the place of the other, just like the understudy of an actor. At the New York Hippodrome, for instance, where a curious group consisting of a pig, a turkey, a goose, a duck, and a hen, follow their trainer to and fro and across the stage in the gypsy encampment, a tiny little black pig, a young goose, and a duck are being trained in case anything happens to the others. Who the star performer in this group is I cannot say, but I should think it is the trainer, for those who know anything about the difficulties of training geese, pigs, fowls and ducks can have some little idea of the trouble and patience in connection with it.
Quite as interesting as the animals, sometimes, are the trainers who become star performers. When a man has once reached the position of an animal trainer, it does not take long, as a rule, before he becomes a star performer. One man who had been an acrobat in a circus entered an animal-show as a helper. He was very fond of lions, and the proprietor, noticing that the lions showed their fondness for him to an unusual degree, suggested that he should try training them. The man shook his head and said he would never have the nerve. One day, soon afterward, a lion got out, and this very man, by his remarkable coolness and courage, got the animal back, probably saving the lives of the proprietor's children, who were playing just outside. After this, the man thought that he might make a trainer after all, and began with two lions. He gradually took on more animals until he had five, and gave several successful performances. Little by little, he gained confidence, and when at last he reached the number of twenty-seven, he realised that he was the only man in the world who had ever done this, and was indeed a "star."
Another noted trainer was a young German, who ran away from his home when a small boy, and after great hardships joined a travelling menagerie. In this way he became familiar with wild animals. Later he joined the show I was visiting, and when one of the trainers fell ill, he asked to take his place. With many doubts the proprietor consented, and little by little he trained the finest "motley group" in the United States. At the time I saw him he had one of the most savage tigresses in captivity, three lions, four bears, two sloth-bears, two boarhounds, and two hyenas. Time after time had that vicious tigress attacked him, after literally crunching up her pedestal with rage, and he had been in the hospital for weeks at a time suffering from the attacks of his other animals. But not once did that man show any sign of fear. I, myself, saw him in two desperate encounters, and the greater the danger, the cooler he seemed to be.
Two Frenchwomen, both stars, and utterly different, interested me deeply. One was a large, stout woman, very handsome. She rarely spoke to anyone, but would sit by herself for hours at a time. She performed with an enormous black bear, the largest in this country, and one of her acts was to put the back of her neck into that creature's mouth and allow him to drag her round the arena. It was one of the most daring and foolhardy feats ever performed with a wild animal, but was neither interesting nor edifying. The performance did not meet with much favour and was stopped. My heart ached for her, for she had one of the saddest of lives, and had just lost her baby, the only thing for which she considered life worth living. It seemed the crowning stroke of misfortune. The bear was her own and only property, but was costly to keep, and unless she had an engagement, difficult to house. I found her one day sitting alone as usual.
"You are all alone?" I began.
"Ah, yes," she said, quietly; "all alone and wishing to die."
"But why?" I asked gently.
"Ah, why?" she answered sarcastically. "I have zo much to live for! I could bear much very much - when I had her - my baby - and I was feared all ze time if ze bear kill me. Now - I fear he will not! I go in wis dat bear two times a day and he nevare touch me. And how long I go on like zis?"
She left the show soon afterwards and I never heard of her again.
The other Frenchwoman was a bright, vivacious young creature, small and pretty, who performed with five of the fiercest leopards and jaguars I have ever seen. Few realise the treacherous nature of these beasts, and their strength is appalling. The trainers and helpers, brave as they were, all feared them, but not so with Madame. She showed not the slightest alarm, whipped them round the arena and did the most startling acts with them. Quick and impulsive, it was this wonderful quickness which often saved her. I have many a time seen one of these treacherous animals watch carefully for the moment when it was necessary for her to lift her arms up to put their pedestals in place, and then gather himself for a spring, when, in a flash, Madame would wheel round, flick her whip, or fire her pistol, and tell him volubly in her own language what she thought of him.
The most treacherous was a full-grown female leopard, who always seemed to have a grudge against her trainer. Yet Madame loved that leopard more than all the others, and made her do things which none of the others would attempt. At the end of one performance this leopardess refused to leave the arena. The beast sat stolidly on her pedestal, and, except for shutting her eyes when the pistol was fired, took not the slightest notice of Madame or of her commands. At last, when Madame's patience was nearly exhausted, the leopard got slowly down, still ignoring her, and stalked slowly to the door. Madame followed, and just as she was close enough, the leopard turned, threw out one paw and with the terrible claws tore Madame's arm horribly. Even this did not make any difference in the Frenchwoman's love for that treacherous brute, for when the leopardess died nearly a year later, Madame was broken-hearted. For weeks she would neither eat nor sleep. The proprietor gave me one of the claws of that leopard, which I had mounted and still wear, and Madame seemed to think it was the most valuable possession on the face of the earth, because it belonged to "ze dear Nellie, ze sweet, petite cherie," etc.
One of the greatest dangers to star performers is that sometimes the helpers, knowing that these trainers are thoroughly proficient in their business, grow careless, and perhaps glance away just when there is danger, and so lose their opportunity of warning the trainer in time. Madame was very particular about this, and indeed in many cases her life depended on it, and when at one performance a leopard nearly caught her arm while a helper was looking elsewhere, in her quick, impulsive way she put her whip through the bars of the arena and flicked him sharply with it. The helper was so startled that he dropped the wooden pole he had been holding, and ran for his life, amid roars of laughter from the audience. This instantly re stored Madame to good humour again, for she joined in the laughter.
Two other interesting star performers I have met were an elephant trainer and his wife. She performed with the polar bears, and her becoming a trainer was somewhat of an accident. Her husband had trained the animals, and one day his wife was in the empty arena preparing the things for his rehearsal, when in came a polar bear, followed by another one. The husband, seeing his wife's peril, completely lost his nerve, but she calmly ordered the bears on their pedestals, and to the surprise of both they obeyed. After that she was frequently in the arena with her husband, and when he began to train tigers - which he did successfully - she took the polar bear act herself, and so became a "star." I used to have some interesting talks with her, and was impressed when she told me that she had perfect control over the animals as long as she had ever so light a pole in her hand, but without it any of the bears would at once go for her feet!
A curious instance of the development of a star" is found in a young fellow who was with a large show as a living advertisement. From his grotesque dress, one would never have guessed how intelligent and refined the young man really was. And I never suspected it myself until a talk one evening, when he was off duty, made it apparent. But on duty he was an awful spectacle. His face was painted, his teeth blackened, he wore a woman's fair wig, with curls, and on the top of that was a ridiculously small sailor hat. He wore knickerbockers of bright hue, and a long, loose coat with a sailor collar, on which was embroidered the name of the show. To crown the effect he carried a doll's parasol. He was certainly a splendid advertisement. He started off every morning at 8:30, rain or shine, with his parasol over his head, followed by a goose, which he had trained to follow him. Certain streets would be mapped out for certain days, and in this manner every street and alley would be paraded, to the great delight of the women, loafers, and small boys. This man was given the nickname of "Sally" in the show, and in addition to his goose, also trained a guinea pig to draw a tiny cart. This guinea pig was only used in the show itself. "Sally" would walk quietly to the thickest part of the crowd just before the arena performance, and without the least warning would roar:
"Hi, there! Look out for the elephant!"
The crowd would part suddenly with a rush, and there on the ground would be seen the little guinea pig drawing the tiny cart, with the old gander waddling behind in the most solemn manner.
As time went on "Sally" became ambitious, and when the snake charmer fell ill, volunteered to take her place. After much hesitation, he was allowed to try, and he was so successful that he continued for some time. Then, as so often happens from growing accustomed to danger, he was, perhaps, not so careful as he should have been, and in the middle of a performance a copperhead snake bit him on the wrist. With splendid nerve he finished his act, and put the snakes away, but collapsed as he reached the exit, and it was found that his coat sleeve had been ripped open by the swelling of his arm. It was feared for some time that he would die, but after ten long weary weeks of suffering he recovered. But "Sally" had had enough of snakes, and went back to his living advertisement dress, his gander, and his guinea pig. Then ambition conquered again, and he began to train elephants. He was nearly killed at first by a huge male elephant, who picked him up and hurled him away as though he were a child, but he stuck to it and was fairly successful. He is now in one of the biggest shows in the United States, and seems likely to stay there. The last I heard of him was that he had a herd of nine elephants and was a "star" performer.
CHAPTER X - THE INSIDE LIFE OF ANIMAL SHOWS
In spite of the progress made in the training of wild animals, there is, after all, only a certain number of tricks which they can be taught. This makes it very difficult for one trainer to give a diversified performance without encroaching on another trainer's particular tricks. Such encroachment is sure to lead to the bitterest jealousy. One trainer who had been on the road for some time was recalled to the main show, and he wrote to say that he had taught his bears "a grand trick, absolutely new," but would wait until his return to headquarters before making it public. In due time he arrived, but refused to answer any questions about the act before the evening's performance, and as the man was a very skilful trainer his "turn" was awaited with great interest.
Trouble began early with the discovery that the "props" - that is, the stools, pedestals, and other articles of this trainer were the exact shade of green adopted by another performer. This may seem a small matter to the reader, but it is really a very important one. Each trainer has his own colour, to prevent the helpers from making errors; animals know their own "props" instantly, and the introduction of any "prop" used by an animal of another group would be almost certain to lead to a fight. Everyone was put out by the incident, especially the new arrival, because it meant the repainting of his whole set of thirty "props" and the consequent abandonment of his performances for a time. For this particular evening it was decided that he should go on, and special precautions were taken in the handling of the "props."
The man had five exceptionally well-trained bears, but when it came to his "unique trick," it was found to be exactly the same act another performer had been giving regularly in that same show for several weeks! His disappointment was acute; all his hard work and valuable time had been lost. But his feelings were as nothing compared with those of the other man, who saw his own performance given before his audience by another trainer. His anger and jealousy were terrible, and there were some warlike words used, but it was settled eventually in the only way possible, according to show ethics: the newcomer abandoned that trick, and repainted his "props."
Troubles never come singly in an animal show, and, as nearly all the trainers are superstitious, and fatalists more or less, everyone was on the alert to see what would follow. They had not long to wait, for on this same night the general fight of the twenty-seven lions took place, and the next morning the baby elephant died. Going into the yard to see the little or big body, I came upon a curious sight. Over in one corner the young elephant was being skinned, while his keeper (who had sat up with him night after night for a whole week) stood by with tears in his eyes. On a table lay a performing poodle, who was being clipped by his master - one of the clowns - and the little dog looked as if he, too, might be dead, so quiet and still did he keep. Close by, one of the kitchen maids was peeling potatoes; a man was beating a rug on the line, and in another corner the unfortunate bear-trainer was repainting his "props." He was very irritable and complained bitterly of the paint.
"This stuff won't dry for a week," he said, crossly, "and even then it will stick to their paws."
At the end of a week he gave his first performance with the new "props," and the animals' paws did stick, and when each bear mounted his pedestal, it lifted its paws one by one, and shook them as a cat does when it touches a wet spot. The audience, thinking it a new trick, applauded vigorously. However, most of the trainers were thoroughly uneasy; and at this particular time their superstitious fears proved to be well founded, for five accidents occurred within the month. On January first occurred that memorable fight among the twenty-seven lions, to which I have already alluded; on January sixth an attendant was bitten by a baboon; on January nineteenth there was a fight in the runway in which the lion- trainer's coat was torn off and his arm injured; on January twenty-sixth, "Madame" was severely injured by the leopard, and on January twenty-ninth another trainer was at tacked by a leopard and had his head and face badly torn.
A common superstition among trainers forbids their ever going back for anything. I have known many a man who would give up an evening's performance rather than take this risk, and I have seen many an awkward predicament resulting from a trainer's having forgotten an article to which he was accustomed, and then refusing to go back for it. I once saw a man go through an entire performance with only one boot on. He had been called suddenly while dressing when only one boot was on, and would not return for the other one. The audience, meanwhile, concluded that it had been torn off by one of the animals.
Superstition also attaches itself to clothes and places. Garments sent home with a black pin in them, or on a Friday, are always viewed with suspicion. Some clothes, it is declared, bring good luck, others bad luck, both without any apparent reason. One trainer purchased a very expensive pair of tights and had an accident the first night he wore them. In spite of their cost he refused to wear them again, and gave them to another trainer at the latter's request. The second trainer also had an accident the first time he performed in these tights, so they were promptly discarded, and it is safe to say that no one in that or any other show could have been bribed to wear them at a performance.
Some towns and villages are looked upon as extremely unlucky, and many are the doubts and fears expressed by the trainers of wild animals when compelled to go to these places. For instance, Terre Haute has been looked upon as a hoodoo city by showmen during recent years. It was in this city that the lion trainer, De Kenzo, was so terribly mauled by Mr. Bostock's lion, Nero. This trainer was very daring, but had taken precautions in the way of wearing buckskin trousers and a thickly padded coat, but the claws of the animal went through both, and the man was badly torn and lacerated. All this was put down to the hoodooed city, and other instances of bad luck were cited. An artilleryman had lost his arm by the premature explosion of a cannon at the Buffalo Bill exhibition some time before; two showmen had also been badly hurt; an expert sharpshooter in another Wild West show had unfortunately fired into the audience, seriously injuring a man and a woman, and another animal trainer had had his head caught between the jaws of a lion, two years before. A sacred baboon, two monkeys, and a young lion had died in that same city.
Most trainers, of course, become inured to danger and accidents, and even their families grow philosophical. I met a nice little woman who kept the peanut and candy stand in one show. Her husband was a lion trainer; they had eloped and been cast off by their families. Neither cared for this, but at first the poor little wife suffered keenly when her husband performed, for he was reckless with the animals, and did not take nearly the precautions he should. When he had bad accidents - and he had many - her anguish was piteous to see. But she got used to them, as all show people do, and instead of suffering so keenly there came a time when she looked upon it all in a different way. Each accident made her husband more famous as a daring lion trainer, and all the papers printed lurid accounts of the accidents, so that in the course of time, after attending to his wounds for she learned just what to do - she would get every paper she could buy, and read all the details to him as he lay in bed.
When, finally, however, he had two hair breadth escapes, she begged him to leave the show and go into business. Twice they did this, and were fairly successful, but each time the fascination of show life was too much for the man, and back he went to his lions. The little wife's fears of his early death came true; yet it was not by the teeth and claws of his lions, but through an attack of pneumonia. In view of his services, the proprietor gave the widow an excellent position, and when I last heard of her she was still with the show.
There are plenty of hardships in animal shows, as elsewhere, and sickness, of course, comes to all. The wife of a trainer was taken seriously ill when her baby was two days old. As her room was just above the band-stand, separated only by a wooden flooring, she had to endure the flare and noise of the instruments nine hours a day, not to speak of the roars and noise of the animals and the applause of the audience. The proprietor wished her to be taken to a hospital, but it was not deemed safe to move her, and everything was done that was possible by everyone in the building. The kindliness and good feeling were wonderful on this occasion, and the baby was paraded around by each woman in turn as proudly as though it belonged to her. The woman finally recovered, but the little one was always called "our baby" by the show people.
A curious incident occurred one afternoon when the mother was convalescent. One of the show women had prepared the baby's bottle carefully, and laid it down on a stool while she went to fetch the baby. A large baboon which had been trained and was fairly tame, found it, sucked it dry, and left the empty bottle! A trainer happened to come along just then and so explained what otherwise would have remained an unfathomable mystery. After this, whenever the baboon saw the baby's bottle he followed the person carrying it, until getting rather rough one day on being re pulsed, it was deemed advisable to chain him up.
Among all the dangers, hard work and difficulties, the little god, Love, is just as busy in animal shows as elsewhere. Two men were deeply in love with the same young woman - an extremely pretty girl. The proprietor of the show stupidly arranged that one of these young men should go on the road shortly, but seemed unable to decide for a while which one it should be. (Now, was that proprietor quite as stupid as he appeared?) The two men talked it over together, and both agreed that the one left behind would have the best chance. When the decision was made, the man who was to stay went to the other and expressed his sympathy. But the other man was nervy, and gulping down his feelings, shook hands and said, huskily:
"Go on and win, my boy. Go on and win!"
And the man who was left behind did his best, and won, so that when the second man returned he found the pair married and settled down. It was naturally somewhat of a shock to him, and for a few days he carefully avoided being alone with his more fortunate rival. However, there came an evening when the two men were once more together and alone. The unfortunate one plucked up heart once more, and congratulated the other, saying he hoped he was happy. The young husband grasped his hand like a vise, and said, looking his rival in the eyes, with a curious look in his own:
"George, my boy, I wish to heaven you had been the one to stay. She has turned out the veriest devil!"
And the man who had lost her, having still the primary instinct in him of savage joy over a rival who had got the worst of it, and ignoring his rival's wish, went through his performance that evening with a vim and daring he had never exhibited before. But to this day the two men are excellent friends and still share confidences.
Of course, there are shows and shows, and some places are much cleaner and better kept than others, but I have never been in any that were not kept fairly clean and well ventilated. In most of these shows strict rules are enforced as to cleanliness, as even with the very greatest precautions, and an abundance of disinfectant, it is extremely difficult to keep any place clean and sweet-smelling where not only so many wild animals are kept, but so many people of all classes and nationalities are thronging in and out all day long.
In most of the shows there are also notices of the various performances, and what time they take place. There is, then, no excuse whatever for any one not being in his or her place at the right minute. Every act is scheduled to take place at a certain time, and so many minutes are allowed for it. If this were not strictly enforced, it can readily be seen that a three hours' performance would easily take four hours, if not more. Of course, in the case of wild animal performances, it is impossible sometimes to keep to the scheduled time, but allowance is always made for this, and it has often been found necessary, when every performer by some unusual luck has been able to keep strictly to his time, to put on an extra act to fill up. But in most cases it is difficult to get them all in.
In one of the largest circuses one afternoon when I was present one of the biggest elephants was dressed and had been standing waiting, when, just as the signal was given, to enter, he refused to go in. As he was the leader it made things awkward. Each act is always announced by a chord by the band, and when this chord had been struck two or three times and no elephants appeared the band struck up a lively tune and kept it up for ten minutes. That ten minutes had been spent by seven or eight men in hard work, for the elephant had decided to return to his stable. As it is fatal ever to let a wild animal get his own way even once, the trainer determined to make the animal do his bidding. Accordingly at the end of ten minutes another chord was struck by the band and in trooped the elephants. One and all performed well, but the motley group who had been kept waiting in the runway had grown impatient and by the time their turn came were having a free fight among themselves.
It would not do to keep the audience waiting a second time, so the bareback riders went in and the performance of the motley group was cut out for that afternoon, much to the disgust of the trainers, who put all the blame on the elephant trainer. It is a bad thing to let animals miss their performance, especially when they have been brought out into the runway, because they will surely expect to miss it the next time, and then probably resent being made to go through their performance. Also it is a bad plan to keep them waiting too long. Let them have their bit of play, pull them together by a sharp command and they will enter the arena and be have well; but give them time to get over that playfulness and their thoughts turn at once to a fight.
Delays are caused occasionally in a wild animal performance by the helpers forgetting one of the "props" necessary to the performance, and if the trainer has to wait for it trouble is almost sure to ensue. He will, of course, do his best to divert the animal's attention until it arrives, but as all animals perform mechanically they get puzzled at any unusual happening, and it generally ends by the act being shortened or else lengthened to double or even treble the time, because the animals grow bewildered and do not seem to know what is expected of them. Delays may also be caused by one or more animals not returning to their cages, but loitering in the runway. This means that the next performer cannot let his animals out until the others are in, and sometimes this means indefinite delay, because when force is used in the runway great danger threatens the trainer. He is in a narrow passageway with only one exit, and no help can get to him because the doors are fastened while the animals are out of the cages.
These are only just a few of the many little things which are in the inside life of a show. It is a hard and strenuous life and full of danger, but it is not unhealthy, neither is it a terrible life to those who live it. To them it is the average workaday life in which the troubles, trials and difficulties of this world are sandwiched in with the little bits of brightness and happiness that make life worth living in any position or any place.
CHAPTER XI - TREACHERY AND VICIOUSNESS AMONG ANIMALS
That treachery and that viciousness exist in animals are, of course, well-known facts, but few realise how far the treachery extends or to what extent this viciousness is carried sometimes, or that occasionally domestic animals show as much treachery and viciousness as the wild creatures. I have carefully investigated these traits and have had interesting testimony from men of unquestionable veracity. The evil passions exist in animals in as great intensity, if not more so than in human beings, the most characteristic being anger, passion, jealousy and greediness.
Lions will work themselves up into frenzies of rage through nothing but jealousy, perhaps of a newcomer who they appear to be afraid will supplant them with the objects of their affection. A placid, good-tempered animal will be come as vicious as the most savage of beasts through this same cause. This is why trainers dread a certain time of the year with lions; nearly all dangerous fights among the animals are caused by jealousy, and the advent of any new animals will at once arouse them to such a pitch of rage and excitement that very often the performances have to be abandoned entirely.
This also applies to most of the big cats and to bears at certain times of the year. Take an instance which only happened in the New York Zoological Park last spring. Czar, a Syrian bear, was always considered one of the most amiable of animals, and at one time I had quite made up my mind to be photographed with him for production in this book. I was told he was as mild and gentle as a kitten, as harmless as a lamb and had never been known to attempt to injure anyone. Mr. Hornaday admitted he was an amiable bear, but said he did not consider any bear safe when a stranger had to go close to him, as of course would be necessary when taking a photograph. However, I had his permission to do as I liked about it, only he repeated his warning.
When the time came the keeper strongly urged me not to attempt it. He said it was the wrong time of year, to begin with, and that this very bear had tried to bite him in the neck only a few days before. This decided me at once to give it up, for I do not believe in being foolhardy. Exactly one week from that date this very bear at tacked two of the keepers without a moment's warning or the slightest provocation. The keepers had gone into the den to clean it out and no notice was taken of them until they had finished their work and prepared to leave the cage. Then it was found that all three bears had gone over to the entrance and that Czar was calmly barring their way, backed up by the other two bears. One man tried to open the gate, but before he could do so the bears knocked both off their feet. The other keeper was stunned by the blow and made no attempt to rise, while the first did his best to keep the bears at bay.
When the prostrate man did move, Czar, with an angry growl, buried his teeth in his leg just above the knee, and when he released him the keeper's clothes were nearly all torn off and he was bleeding profusely. The other had shouted for help and he kept the bears back as well as he could, but both men had to go round and round the den, dodging the three bears until help finally arrived, when one keeper threw the key of the gate over the railings and those outside, armed with all sorts of implements, drove the bears away from the gate and got the men out. The wounded keeper was taken to the hospital, where he remained several weeks, while Czar was put in solitary confinement, where he looked as meek and gentle as a young lamb. Not one of these three bears had ever shown the slightest sign of ill-humor or viciousness until that week.
The acme of viciousness, however, was displayed by a female Yezo bear in the next den. The Yezo bears are so fierce and savage that among the natives they are termed the "terrible bears," and terrible indeed they are when they attack. The male Yezo in the Park is a handsome animal, not yet full-grown, but big, strong, muscular and most beautifully marked. He has a way of holding his head down and seemingly takes no notice of anything that is going on, but this is only deceit on his part. He is waiting an opportunity to attack and is always ready to resent any slight, fancied or real. His mate, noted for viciousness, is a dwarf, and taken by most of the visitors to the Park for a young one, but she has never grown since her arrival. There seems no adequate reason for this, as she is strong and healthy, eats and drinks well and exercises all day long.
It is usually the custom for the keepers to provide themselves with clubs when entering the bear dens, for it must be remembered that they are obliged to lock themselves in for the safety of the public, and that when locked in they are completely at the mercy of the bears. Sometimes, however, when it is a question of being here only a few minutes they will venture in armed only with their brooms and pails. Going in one day without his club, the keeper drove the two bears to the back of the den and then began to clean up. The keeper suddenly heard a shuffling sound and, looking up, saw the dwarf running straight toward him and knew she meant an attack. The male stayed at the back, but watched the movements of his mate with interest and was prepared to come forward at the propitious moment.
The keeper had already had one scrimmage with the dwarf, which was enough to let him know that her strength was far beyond that of half a dozen men. Grasping his pail firmly in both hands, he stooped down, and as she threw herself forward with the intention of throwing him down he clapped the pail on her head, muzzle-fashion, as hard as he could and left her to take it off herself while he hastily unlocked the gate and got out. And he was only just in time, for after a hasty and angry tussle she sent the tin pail clattering to the other end of the den and rushed for the gate, followed by her mate, who now seemed as angry as she was. She tried the same thing soon after, but this time the keeper had his club and caught her just in time. The club seemed to make her thoughtful and kept her thinking for some time after the episode whenever she caught sight of the weapon. On the keeper's entrance she would make a move forward, see the club, think a little and then retire to the back of the den to consider matters. But she never forgets, and even when being fed is always on the lookout for a chance to get at either of the keepers. On one occasion her mate got a piece of fish she wanted and, although not half his size, she chased him round the cage, knocked him about and bit him until he gave in completely to his better half.
Leopards and jaguars are perhaps the most treacherous of all the wild animals, certainly of all the wildcats, and few keepers will be found who will willingly enter the cage of a leopard or jaguar. These animals more than any others bear out the well-known saying that "An animal seen from the outside is another animal inside," for, as I have already mentioned, however friendly they may appear when the keeper is outside the cage, even going so far as to allow him to stroke and pat them, let him attempt to invade the privacy of the cage and it becomes another matter altogether.
Even with long-trained performers, leopards and jaguars remain just as treacherous, just as mean, and just as vicious as the first day the trainer took them in hand. Madame Morelli, who is so well known for her performing leopards and jaguars, has been torn, scratched and bitten until her arms and shoulders - she always performs with bare arms and neck - are literally a network of seams and scars. And most of these injuries have been inflicted when her animals have taken her unawares. Wonderfully quick in her actions, it is yet often impossible for her to anticipate attack, for their slyness and cunning are beyond belief. I have often watched the animals carefully and noticed how each one, the moment she turns her back, will instantly get ready to spring. But it is a difficult matter on account of Madame's quickness.
When I last saw her at Luna Park, Coney Island, she had one small leopard among her group who was slightly deformed. He was stunted in growth and his front legs were bowed. In each performance he tried in vain to get at her, to spring on her back, to catch her feet, and when this failed he would visit his discomfiture on the other jaguars and leopards. One afternoon he seemed particularly morose and vicious. He refused to do any of his acts without compulsion and even then did them with as bad a grace as possible. He refused to get up on his pedestal, and when up refused to stay there, but jumped off and kept sneaking round his trainer's long skirts, snarling villainously. After many throwbacks and seeing no chance of catching his trainer unawares, he suddenly went for the most amiable leopard in the whole group and bit him so severely through the hind leg that the poor animal had to continue his act on three legs.
Lopez, the noted jaguar in the New York Zoological Park, had no reason whatever for killing the young female jaguar who had been provided as a companion for him in his solitude. As a matter of fact, during the few days when it was deemed advisable by the authorities to put the jaguars' cages in close proximity to one another in order to see whether they appeared to be friendly, he had evinced the liveliest interest in her and had appeared most kindly disposed, purring and rubbing himself against the bars of his cage with every appearance of pleasure. As the young jaguar also seemed to reciprocate, it was finally decided to let her into Lopez's cage to be his lifelong companion. The young jaguar walked through with every appearance of pleasure, giving a little purr as she did so and evidently expecting to be gladly welcomed. And now mark the change of attitude.
The moment she set foot inside his cage Lopez's whole demeanour altered. His eyes blazed, his fur and muscles quivered, he drew in his breath with a gasp, and then with a throaty growl he sprang at the young jaguar, inserted his long canine teeth deeply into the back of her neck and held on like a bulldog. No available weapon could make him loosen his deadly hold. He was beaten over the head, prodded in the face, and his feet stamped on. He simply shut his eyes, drew in his breath and held on to his victim with more determination than ever. He tried to get away once by raising himself and carrying the now dying jaguar to the other side of the cage, just as a cat would carry a kitten; when, after a whole minute and a half, he was finally persuaded to let go, the young jaguar dropped heavily and limply to the floor, where she died almost immediately. Throughout the encounter she had seemed too bewildered to attempt to escape, for the suddenness of the attack made her powerless.
On examination of the body when it was got out - which proved to be a task of the greatest difficulty owing to the treachery and viciousness of Lopez, it was found that he had completely crushed two of the vertebrae of the neck and that the spinal cord was penetrated by pieces of bone. This is a marvellous fact when one considers the tremendous force necessary to accomplish this. We are told by several naturalists that the jaguar's mode of killing is invariable that it springs to the back of its victim and by a sudden, quick movement of its forepaws twists the victim's head around and thus breaks its neck. Lopez sprang to the right side of the unfortunate newcomer, but he did no twisting, no wrenching. He buried his teeth in the vertebrae of the neck and crushed it as easily as an ordinary house-cat crushes the small, delicate neck of a mouse. And for this offence Lopez, like man, has to take his punishment, although, of. course, being only an animal he does not know this - but he is condemned to the most awful punishment of all, solitary confinement for life!
At no time either before or since this tragic event has this animal exhibited any particular signs of viciousness. He celebrated his first entrance into his new home by rolling on his back, all four paws in the air, and purring loudly. Never from his first appearance in captivity did Lopez ever snarl, beat himself against the bars of his cage or show any special indications of fierceness or savageness such as might have been expected from one of his kind. Once having got over the scared phase, he showed a disposition to have a quiet game with anyone who cared to play with him and was looked upon as playful, genial, good-tempered wildcat. This instance, I think, illustrates the innate evilness and treachery with which all wild, animals are imbued, whether they show it or not. Not one of them can be trusted, however amiable he may appear. It is the amiable ones who seem to be the most treacherous.
There is a large Bengal tiger in the same house with Lopez who does not even pretend to be amiable and whose savage disposition no one can doubt after even a few minutes' study of him. Even for the keepers who care for and feed him daily he has nothing but rank hatred, and at their first appearance will rouse himself with a threatening roar of rage or a hissing growl and rush at the front of his cage with such force that the whole fabric quivers. When no notice is taken of him he will finally retire to the farthest corner and sneer and snarl with all his might. His hoarse, throaty growls, the in drawing of his breath and the villainous ex pression of his eyes all reveal far better than words his fearful viciousness and savagery.
It seems to me tigers are peculiarly savage. At Richmond, in Mr. Bostock's show, I watched night after night, just before the evening performance, Charles Miller training two Bengal tigers. These two tigers were a curious contrast. One was wildly savage and showed it in every possible way. The other was deadly placid, sly, and absolutely silent; but it was of this latter one that the trainer had to be most careful, for there is a well-known saying among trainers, "Beware of the animal who does not snarl."
Although in constant danger from the wilder one, the trainer apparently took no notice of him, but not a movement of the other escaped him. He was careful to carry one whip under his arm with the lash toward the back. This was the only thing which kept that tiger from springing at him and tearing him to pieces. Every time the trainer turned his back the least bit the quiet tiger would instantly lie flat on his stomach and crawl steadily and with marvellous silence toward him. But what astonished me most was the air of absolute ignorance and in difference that tiger would assume the moment the trainer turned round! To see him then it was almost impossible to believe the evil intent that marked his stealthy, treacherous movement of a moment before, although you had seen it with your own eyes. The slightest flick of the whip, a word, and the tiger would go back to his place without a sound and do what he was told without a murmur. And yet it was this very tiger who nearly killed Mr. Miller some time afterward. He had actually got him down and was standing over him when one of the men outside the arena was able to put a loaded pistol into the trainer's hand, which just saved him, for at the blaze of fire and puff of smoke the tiger drew back and the trainer was able to get to his feet.
There was a leopard in the London Zoological Gardens a few years ago who was noted for his slyness and treachery. After a time an abscess formed in his lower jaw and the poor animal suffered agonies. His keeper took me to his cage behind the runway one day and, instead of being the savage beast I had known, I found he had become the most gentle of creatures, and the keeper said he could do anything he liked with him then. But when the abscess was lanced and the leopard began to get better his treachery promptly returned, for this same keeper told me the leopard had nearly drawn his arm into the cage when he was feeding him.
A curious case of treachery was that which happened to Thomas Flood in the Dublin Zoological Gardens. He had among other things the care of a fine red deer stag, of whom he was very fond and of whom he made quite a pet. But one morning when he went to feed him as usual the stag suddenly turned on him and killed him.
In a well-known circus there is one elephant who always has to be carefully guarded and is usually exhibited with a man on either side of him. He appears to excel in wickedness, and there is no doubt he will go the way of all "bad" elephants, which means that it will be found necessary to kill him. If he cannot do mischief with his trunk he will try to crush with his foot; failing that, he will then try to get his intended victim between himself and the wall and so crush him. In spite of all this, he is one of the best performers in the whole show and never shows any viciousness when before the public .
I once determined to be photographed with some young lion cubs. They looked so young and innocent and had such pretty little ways! But when the time came their savageness and disagreeable manner of doing things caused me to alter my mind. Each time I tried to make either sit on my lap or nestle up to me I was met with a vicious snarl and determined endeavours to bite and scratch. Fortunately I eluded the bites, but some of the scratches went home, and after about twenty minutes' hard work and vain endeavours I concluded that I had been greatly mistaken in their dispositions and gave it up .
The most curious case of pure viciousness, however , that I have ever beheld was in a small performing pony at the New York Hippodrome . This pony - a beautiful little creature - formed one of a group and was without exception the most ill-tempered animal (especially as he is not classed among "wild" animals I have ever seen. I was behind the scenes one day, or rather below-stairs, where the animals live, and the ponies, decorated in all their finery, were standing patiently together waiting their turn to go on the stage. All but one, and he was kept safely in a stall by himself until the last minute, for he is, and always will be, a "bad" pony. He is bright, clever and intelligent, and a model performer, and has rarely ever shown his temper either on the stage or in the ring, but not for one moment are his trainer's eyes off him and several grooms are always ready to take him back at the least sign of disobedience.
No kindness, petting or feeding have any effect on this pony, and Miss Marquis, his trainer, told me that when once she was giving him some sugar he turned on her savagely and bit her finger to the bone! He is always made to wear a muzzle and his stall is specially equipped with a long boarding so placed as to prevent his kicking the groom when he goes in to feed him or unfasten him. While waiting for his act he was kept in his stall face outwards, with his bridle fastened securely on either side to strong hooks. This prevented his moving either way. He looked so gentle and pretty and the expression in his eyes was so pathetic that I felt sorry for him; but when two grooms came to take him on the stage and I saw it took all their strength and diplomacy to keep themselves from being kicked or crushed I altered my opinion.
He refused to come out of the stall at first. When finally forced he refused to go up the incline which led to the stage. I was warned to keep at a safe distance, and after a few shouts from the groom of "Look out!" at which everyone fled, a sharp flick from a long whip was given him from behind and he flew up to the stage like a whirlwind. Once there he went through his performance - a very clever one - without a hitch, and, except for his black muzzle, gave every one the impression that he was "a perfect dear!" And when he followed his groom back to the stall he did everything such an animal could do. Not being able to bite or kick, he tried tearing at his groom with his forefeet. Removing his ring regalia was a task of strength, agility and cunning. But when his finery was off and he was once more securely tied, he put on his sweet and injured air again and looked the meekest and most gentle of all ill-used creatures.
This curious trait of viciousness seems sometimes to develop or show itself quite suddenly. I have been told of one or two instances where the mothers of young cubs, on becoming frightened or nervous at any unusual happening, have turned on the cubs, literally rending them to pieces. Whether, however, this is really vicious ness or pure terror is a question.
I know of a little, trained pig who up to a certain time was considered a good-tempered animal and was much petted. In order to make a pig squeak it is only necessary to turn it over the least bit and its hearers will at once conclude that it is dying in agony. But a stranger, not knowing this, pinched it one day, and ever since then the little pig has behaved more like a wild boar as regards savageness and bad temper, and leads the trainer a life of it in consequence.
There is no doubt there is a certain amount of pure viciousness in the nature of every animal, whether wild or domestic, and often it takes extremely little to bring it out.
CHAPTER XII - ALL SORTS AND CONDITIONS OF MEN
In a show one meets men of all sorts and conditions, and the man in the ring is usually a very different person from the same man off duty, not only in action, but in appearance.
I had been going in and out of one show and had grown to know most of the people, when one day a tall, well-dressed man appeared at the show, and from his reserved but impressive manner I concluded he must be one of the managers. He appeared to know everybody, but kept much to himself. Shortly afterward I asked the treasurer who he was, but my description failed to identify him. There was no manager, he said, other than the one I knew, and he could not think who it could be. At that moment the man happened to pass and I pointed him out. The treasurer burst into a hearty laugh. "That?" he said. "Why, that's Jimmy, the clown! Didn't you see him perform last night? He's one of the best clowns in the country, only this being winter-time he takes anything he can get."
The clown! I could scarcely believe my ears. It seemed impossible that this dignified gentle man could be the same man who went into the arena dressed in a most ridiculous costume, tumbling over everything and everybody, and winding up with a monologue which he addressed to a life-sized wooden doll he called "Dearest Amelia," and danced with to the tune of "In the Good Old Summer Time." But it was! That same evening I watched carefully and recognised the man beneath the paint.
There was one man in a circus who played at being a bull. Dressed in skin, with large horns fastened on his head, his general get-up was extremely effective. Walking on all fours, he imitated the gait of a bull, rushed at the matador in warlike fashion and concluded the performance by kicking up his hind legs in the most fantastic manner, calling forth roars of laughter. And every moment this man could spare he spent in practising on the violin, which he played with a delicacy of touch and appreciation of tone not often found. His rendering of the inter mezzo from "Cavalleria Rusticana" was one of the finest things I have ever heard. I asked him why he did not give up the show business and study music in earnest. His answer was that he had a wife and three children and could not afford to lose a single day's pay. His wife did not care for music, it seemed, and unless he played ragtime would not let him play at all unless he went out-of-doors. I suggested to him one day that he would be lost without his violin, and his answer was given very gravely: "Life wouldn't be worth living without it." I heard of his death about a year after this, and that his last wish had been to have his violin buried with him, which was done.
I think the most versatile woman I ever met was a lion trainer who performed daily with five full-grown lions. She was a beautiful woman, an Austrian, and kept her widowed mother and young sister in comfort from the fruits of her hazardous work. In the morning she would be either washing, ironing or cooking in a plain cotton dress, big apron and with rolled-up sleeves. Grave, quiet and very courteous, she would go about her work and beyond answering any questions put to her did not seem inclined to talk. Just before the afternoon performance she would appear most daintily dressed, and was then gay, talkative, and extremely witty. When first entering the arena she would smile at the audience in a winning manner and, almost before one could breathe, her face would become harsh, stern, her eyes ablaze, and she would put the lions through their paces with a vim which was startling. At the end of each little act her face would suddenly relax into a sweet, winning smile, which would be replaced instantly by the stern look intended for the lions.
One night before the performance, when the lions were in an ugly humour, she calmly gave directions to her mother what to do if she were injured, in a most matter-of-fact way. "If I should have to be taken to the hospital," she said calmly, "now don't begin to fuss and make me worry. Just eat your supper, and tomorrow you can both come round and see me, if I am well enough. Keep a good, clear fire and put on the steak just as soon as you hear the chord which shows my act is over. It's a thick steak today, so it will want good cooking, and the potatoes are in the tin pail."
I was actually a witness of this little scene, and I confess I was in an agony of suspense all through the performance. There was trouble from the moment she entered the arena, and at the climax one lion gave her a nasty bite on her shoulder, but she got out safely, and while her mother was bathing the wound she gave directions to her young sister about the potatoes and the kettle.
"You see," she said to me, with one of her bright smiles, "I am all right, after all, and I know you thought I was going to be killed. Mama, too, is nervous" (the old lady's tears were dropping one by one on her daughter's shoulder, which she tried bravely to hide, although they were nearly blinding her), "but I am not at all. Feel my hands; aren't they cool and steady?"
It was true. Her hands were cool and steady, but her face was as white as chalk, and I noticed that she ate little or no supper. But the next morning she was busy at her housework again and, except that she had a stiff shoulder and that her hand was tied up, did not seem to suffer much pain or inconvenience. But I strongly suspect that the woman exerted her marvellous will power in order to keep up with her work, for in a few days' time she looked pale and ill and admitted that her arm had given her a lot of trouble. Yet in spite of all this she went through her performance twice daily, and with her family and her friends she was as kindly and as thoughtful as ever.
In one of the large, well-known shows an animal trainer who was a deeply religious man did his best to convert the other performers, with, I fear, but little results. He gave little addresses to the men whenever he could get them to listen, spoke to them when they swore, and finally presented each one in the show with a New Testament. He deserved to have won success, for he spared no pains, gave up nearly all his spare time and worried over the spiritual welfare of many of them a great deal more than some of them were worth. A few, indeed, listened to him patiently and finally became his firm friends, but the majority fought shy of him. Perhaps he did not choose just the right time, for when show performers are just going in or out of the ring they are not in the most receptive mood, and some of the answers he got, especially from the men, were more forcible than pleasant.
He was a man who took life seriously, too seriously, for he often worried over the actions of certain men and women who, as a matter of fact, were leading hard-working, honest lives, and were just as good and conscientious as he was himself, except that they did not look on some things in the same way he did. He was almost childlike in his simplicity about some matters, as the following incident will show. I found him very depressed and miserable one morning, and he told me he had had a great disappointment. On my expressing my sympathy, he said: "Well, I have found out something which I suppose you will scarcely believe. The press agent published something in the papers yesterday about my animals which was not true!"
A young and very pretty girl acted as a stenographer in a certain show and for a while hated the business. But as time went on she became interested in the animals, then in the training, and finally expressed a wish to become a trainer herself. Her family, naturally enough, were deeply opposed to it, but she seemed to have become fascinated with the life. She went to work and trained five pumas, and eventually became one of the best performers in the business. Pumas do not, as a rule, make good performers; they are too much given to play at the wrong time and become indifferent just when they should pay attention, and the acts, though graceful, are generally tame and mediocre, but they serve as a good background for the more exciting events of the programme. This girl associated very little with the other show people and would sit in the galleries for hours at a time by herself or else go and talk to the pumas. She was very gentle and refined, and a most beautiful needle-woman.
Apart from the better class of people of an animal show there are some, naturally, who are rough, either from association or inclination. Among other things in one show there were some women acrobats; one was an enormous woman, with the strength of two men, and she performed some marvellous feats. She gave one the impression of being somewhat loud and coarse, but one day when I suddenly met her behind the scenes she spoke to me in such a gentle, pleasant voice, that I at once took myself to task for so misjudging her. After a little talk, seeing she was dressed for the performance, I said: "I suppose you are just going on?"
And in the same sweet, pleasant voice she re plied promptly: "Yes, and I shall be d----d glad when it is time to come off!"
Show life from the outside has a glitter which charms and makes many persons glad to enter it in any capacity. In nine cases out of ten the hardships of the life give the aspirants a rude awakening, and then they turn to less arduous fields of labour. Stars in an animal show only last a few years in any case, and often, as was the case with Bonavita, there comes an awful day of reckoning when the very animals he loves most turn on him and almost rend him limb from limb. There dawns a fateful day for every trainer, no matter how brilliant his career or how wonderful his power over animals, when he makes his final exit from the ring. And lucky indeed are they who, having escaped death itself from the teeth and claws of their beloved animals, are able to leave the perilous life fairly sound in body and limb.
CHAPTER XIII - THE PUBLIC'S POINT OF VIEW!
When studying in the various Zoological Gardens and wild animal shows two things have struck me particularly: one is the vast ignorance of the public respecting wild animals, and the varied opinions it has about shows and show life. It is a curious fact, that although in most of the animal shows and in all Zoological Gardens labels are attached to each cage with full descriptions of the occupants, where they come from, whether poisonous or not, and so on, comparatively few ever take the trouble to read them. As soon as the keepers or trainers appear they are besieged with all sorts of questions, such as "What animal is this? Where does he live? Is he dangerous? What does he eat?"
And these questions the unfortunate men have to answer every few minutes of the day. The above are, of course, legitimate questions, but there are others which are not only absurd, but are simply maddening to those who have to listen to them day after day. A well-known keeper in one of the large Zoological Gar dens told me that apparently sensible, respectable men have asked him such questions as these: "What time of the year do buffaloes hatch? What is the difference between a lion and a tiger? How many times does a tiger have young ones?" and "How old is an elephant before he begins to think?"
Another keeper told me of some ladies who asked him if he went inside the bear dens when he cleaned them out. On explaining that he could scarcely do so without going inside they then asked if the bears were loose when he went in. On answering this also in the affirmative the next question was - whether this was not dangerous? He explained that there was always a certain amount of danger with all wild animals; that, of course, they grew to know their keepers; but, at the same time the keepers ran great risks every time they entered the dens. Then came the final question: "Then why don't you take precautions and get one of the others to go in and chain them up first
An old lady was watching the bears in the New York Zoological Park one day, and after a while she turned to me and said: "Poor things! I'm sure they look harmless enough. Why don't they let some of them out sometimes just for a little exercise!" It is just possible that if anyone could have been found who was foolish enough to do this, the old lady herself might have had a good deal more exercise than she cared for.
Incredible as it may seem, I heard a man ask a keeper at the Barnum & Bailey Show if "those long sticks in the elephant's mouth were put there every day!" It is scarcely necessary to explain that the "sticks" referred to were the elephants' tusks.*
* I have since found that this question is asked constantly in circuses and animal shows. - AUTHOR.
Many of the public believe that the colouring on the mandrill is nothing but paint; no explanations make them alter their opinion. Evidently they think the whole thing is a fake and that, of course, the proprietors and keepers are not going to "give it away."
In spite of the progress of knowledge old fashioned illusions about wild animals still hold their own, and this notwithstanding the fact that there are so many facilities in these days for finding out things for oneself.
The fallacy that the human eye can control a wild animal is still believed in by many, but how many have proved the contrary! Take the case of a lion trainer who goes into the arena with a score of lions moving all round him in every direction and he himself turning from side to side to direct them; it will readily be seen that he would want more than a dozen pairs of eyes if it were the eyes alone that controlled them. This is one of the greatest fallacies that ever existed. It is the brain and will power which control wild animals and it has nothing to do with the eye, except that the eyes add expression to the face. Watch any wild animal performance and you will notice that many of the best tricks are done by the animals when the trainer is not looking at them. It is quite true that every man risks his life every time he turns his back on the fiercer animals, but this is not because the "magnetic power of the human eye" no longer overawes them. Not at all. It is because the animal is treacherous and knows by instinct that when a man's back is turned he is more defenceless. Else why is it that nearly all wild animals spring from the rear of their prey? All the felines jump for the throat, but they invariably jump when the animal has its back toward them.
Another delusion is that when accidents occur in wild animal shows the animal is either hungry or has a thirst for blood. Both are wrong. With all performances the animals are fed afterward, never before; if they had their food given them first, nothing would induce them to get up and perform, because it is natural for them to get drowsy after food and sleep for some time. It is the very fact that they know they will be fed after their performance which keeps them tractable and willing to do what they are told.
Quite lately I was studying some performing seals whose intelligence seemed absolutely startling. The intelligence is undoubtedly there, but I found that the secret was, that the trainer gave each one a piece of fish every time he did a trick successfully. It is just the same with all performing animals. The maxim is: "Do your duty and you will get something," and every performing animal knows it, from the elephant, who gets pea nuts and sugar, down to the tiny guinea pig, who gets some dainty bit of green stuff.
How many times we hear a snake spoken of as "slimy''! And yet such a thing as a slimy snake has never been known. Many snakes hiss, but not all, and while it is a general belief that each rattle on a rattlesnake's tail stands for one year of his life it is a fact that sometimes two or three joints stand for one year.
I was talking to a snake charmer once who interested me very much. He was the very dirtiest-looking specimen I ever saw, and on close proximity I found he was quite as dirty as he looked. Perhaps it was the clothing he wore to make him look like a Brahmin - or the constant contact with the snakes. He did a good deal of gesticulating with his hands in the performance, and it was certainly wonderful how much power he seemed to have over his sinuous, treacherous pupils. What I thought the most wonderful part, however, was that when he coiled these snakes round his bare neck and arms they were all so absolutely placid and obedient and made no effort to get away, but stayed as though glued to his flesh.
I asked him to explain this to me, and I was much surprised at his answer. It was not hypnotism, there was no "charming" about it; the snakes stayed there round his bare neck and arms because they enjoyed the warmth of his flesh. Cold-blooded creatures as they are, they enjoy any kind of warmth. Most of the on lookers believed that he had simply "charmed" them. But when some time afterward I told Mr. Ditmars, curator of the reptile house in the New York Zoological Park, he took quite another view of the matter. He said it was natural for any snake to cling to something, that these coilings were in most cases purely involuntary and that the snake simply held on for fear of falling. I leave this problem for those who are better acquainted with this subject than I am.
I have heard many people say that the snakes which snake charmers use are harmless because their fangs have been removed. But it is not generally known that when the fangs of a poisonous snake are removed new fangs grow very quickly in their place. At the back of each fang - serpents have two special teeth or fangs - are smaller ones, varying in size, but all growing steadily and waiting their turn to take the place of the previous ones. Every eight weeks a full-grown fang is shed, but not until the one immediately behind it is connected with the poison gland and ready for work does the old one drop out. In the case of fangs being pulled out the poison sac remains and a tiny scratch from the poisoned jaw teeth of a serpent will endanger the life of a man.
Another misapprehension is that snakes must have all their food given to them alive or they will not eat it. This is not so. In the first place a serpent could not swallow anything that is stiff or unyielding and it is impossible for a reptile to swallow either an animal or bird unless the legs and wings are laid close to the body. In nearly all Zoological Gardens the food is killed and given to the reptiles while it is quite warm and before rigor mortis has set in; otherwise they will not touch it.
One of the most universal illusions is the belief that all deer are gentle, timid creatures. It is true that during about eight or nine months of the year deer are harmless, but just as soon as a male deer gets his full-grown antlers he becomes a different creature. This applies to elk, moose, caribou and all male deer. At the beginning of September the males begin to put on aggressive airs. Their eyes become wild and fierce, their necks swell, and with distended nostrils and ears laid back they strut about seeking with whom they can fight. And through the months of September, October and November they are dangerous, warlike fellows, marvellous for their strength and agility.
On the other hand, nothing will make some people realise that wild animals are always wild animals, no matter how much they may have been taught and trained. They seem to have the idea that because the wild animals appear fairly quiet in their cages they are either drugged or that they are "nothing but a lot of old, tame cats." I heard a countryman say once that he would rather go in with fifty of those old performing lions than in the yard with his bull.
There was an elderly lady who used to go daily to an animal show and stand for hours in front of the lions, gazing at them as though fascinated. The only time she left her position was when the lions left their cages to perform in the arena, and then she would sit and watch them. When this had gone on for several weeks the proprietor one day spoke to her and asked courteously if she would mind telling him what attraction the lions had for her. The old lady brightened up and said: "I have been more or less of an invalid all my life, but was always fond of animals. One day when looking at the lions I noticed myself gaining strength, and ever since then I have found my strength increasing. As long as I stand and look at the lions I feel better and stronger, but if I miss for a single day I get as weak as ever. Don't you think that is a wonderful thing?"
The proprietor said he did, and strongly advised her not to give it up, but attend regularly. Why not? It amused and interested the old lady and was good for the show. In time some of the public got to know of her, and she proved almost as much of an attraction as some of the trainers and animals. I can vouch for the truth of this story.
In another show a man was noticed who attended all the performances of the lions. Night after night he appeared and sat there seriously and thoughtfully watching every movement of the trainer and the animals. He seemed to work himself up to a nervous tension every time, heaved a great sigh, as though of relief, when each performance was finished, and, wiping his face, which was generally streaming with per spiration, would then leave the show. Eventually the lion trainer got to hear of it and at first was, naturally, pleased and flattered, but in time the man's intense gaze and silent figure got on his nerves, and several times he found himself thinking more about that silent figure than of his animals, an exceedingly risky thing to do. Finally when one night the lions had been unusually ugly and the performance had taken twice the scheduled time he sent a message to the man asking him to wait.
"Now tell me, " said the trainer after the preliminaries had taken place," why do you never miss one of my performances?"
"Sir," answered the man, "I don't consider there's anything exciting in your performances except when you put your head in the lion's mouth, and I know that you may go on doing it for a long time. But I know also that one of these days he will surely bite it off, and, by gosh, I'm going to be there when he does it!"
The late Mr. James Bailey had a favourite story of a man and a tiger. Some wild animals which had just arrived were being sold by auction, and Mr. Bailey bid for a fierce Bengal tiger. A little, meek-looking man outbid him from the first, but not to be outdone, Mr. Bailey added more, until he realised that he was offering more than the tiger was worth, and it was accordingly knocked down to the little man. Greatly interested and puzzled, Mr. Bailey made inquiries about the man, but no one seemed to know him. Finally, he went up to the purchaser of the tiger and asked him if he would mind telling him his reason for giving such a high price.
"I lost my wife quite recently," said the little man pathetically, "and I am lonely."
I heard some people at the New York Hippodrome last winter get quite worked up because the sea-lions and seals were kept so long out of water. "It's downright cruelty to animals," said one; "and ought to be reported."
A little old man appeared one day at a seaside animal show where a continuous performance was held, and asked what time the show opened. He was told twelve o'clock; it was then just eleven. At twelve to the minute he returned and entered the show. The ticket-seller noticed that he was still there at three o'clock, and at five, and concluded the old mean meant to have full value for his money. The next time he met the old man walking round the show - it was then six-thirty - and noticed he looked white and ill.
"Anything I can do for you?" asked the ticket-seller kindly.
The old man looked relieved. "Say, mister," he said, in a tired voice, "when does this show end? I'm that tired I am just ready to drop."
CHAPTER XIV. - ABOUT WOLVES
Much has been written about wolves, their habits, traits and characteristics; yet the subject is by no means exhausted. There is the theory that the male wolf always remains with the mother and helps take care of the young. President Roosevelt, in his "Outside Pastimes of an American Hunter," expresses a doubt about this and says: "I wish, for instance, that I could get trustworthy information of any instance in which the male wolf, or coyote, remained with his mate and joined in the care of the cubs. In the cases of breeding wolves which have come to my knowledge, the mother has been alone, and the male has not had anything to do with the care of the family."
Now, wolves have always interested me, partly because of their beauty, partly because of their quick and graceful movements, and partly because of their wonderful faces, so full of varied expressions: slyness, craftiness and quickness of perception. Their absolute control over the eyes and muscles when suffering tortures, and even in the death agony, is truly wonderful. No wolf has ever been known to utter a sound when dying. And so, when making inquiries and gathering information for this book, I also took the opportunity to find out all I could about the wolf. From over a hundred people whose word is absolutely reliable, I have asked this question, either verbally or by letter:
"Have you ever personally known of any instance where the male wolf has remained with the mother and helped take care of the cubs?"
From fifty-eight the answer was "No," but from others I have obtained some unique information, which, if contradictory, is all the more interesting. M. Porte, the Director of the Jardin d'Acclimation, Paris, France, writes that he has heard of the male wolf staying with the mother and cubs, but has no personal knowledge of such a case.
Mr. E. M. B. Villiers, the Superintendent of the Zoological Gardens of Bristol, England, writes: "As to your question about wolves we have a pair of wolves which have bred here, but the male has no choice about taking care of the cubs, as he is shut in the same cage, and, as far as I can see, the female bullies him terribly while the cubs are small."
Mr. Arthur E. Brown, the Secretary of the Zoological Society of Philadelphia, writes: "In our gardens the male wolves are removed before the birth of the young. "
Dr. F. A. Crandall, the Curator of the Buffalo Park Zoo, Buffalo, writes: "In captivity while breeding them [wolves], I never saw a male that would not kill cubs at any time up to the time they were able to defend themselves. I had one male that cut through two-inch pine planks in one night, to get at cubs three weeks old, and killed two out of six before the keeper could get in to stop him."
Dr. Heinrich Bolau, the Director of the Zoological Gardens at Hamburg, Germany, writes: "In regard to our wolves, the male remains with the mother and the cubs, without any disturbance. Formerly, when the male was separated from the female, the latter got restless and uneasy, and the cubs did not thrive."
Dr. Frank Baker, Superintendent of the National Zoological Park, Washington, D. C., writes: "With regard to the care of the young by the male wolf, I would say that a pair of American grey wolves have raised a litter of young here each year since 1897. The male has regularly remained with his mate, and has never failed to share in the care of the young, helping in the feeding after they begin to eat meat, and giving them almost as much attention as they received from the mother."
From these varied facts, I leave the reader to draw his own conclusions about this question.
There is one man who has had perhaps greater opportunity to observe the habits and dispositions of wolves, and to study their con duct, than any other in the world. This is Mr. John Abernethy, now United States Marshal for the Territory of Oklahoma, and who accompanied President Roosevelt on his last hunting trip. Mr. Abernethy is certainly the only man in the world who has caught these animals with his hand. He has captured over a hundred in this way, and his manner of procedure is both interesting and curious.
Galloping along on his sturdy white pony, he waits until the critical moment when his dogs have thrown or overtaken the wolf. Then he throws himself off the horse, strikes at the wolf with his hand, grips the under jaw as tightly as possible before the animal has time to close down, and goes to the ground with him, in order to prevent the animal using his feet. Unless this were done very quickly, the wolf would undoubtedly win the victory, for the canine teeth of a wolf are very long and deadly poisonous. The bite of any wolf causes intense pain, suppuration and high fever. In fact, it causes a kind of pseudo-hydrophobia, which continues for about a week or ten days, and very often ends in death. Once having caught the wolf in this manner, the animal is powerless. This plan of capturing wolves originated with Mr. Abernethy. Once he saw his favourite dog at his last gasp, and in desperation his master caught the wolf's jaw with his hand and so saved him. In this way, he says, he learned that by being quick and muscular enough, the wolf's chief weapons being his jaws, he could capture any wolf alive.
It is the general opinion that wolves are cowardly, but with this Mr. Abernethy does not agree. He admits that they are very cunning and will run rather than fight, but when fighting is necessary, they will do it with a viciousness and bravery wonderful to behold. It is impossible to make them cry out, or to show any sign of pain, and they never give up until they are dead. But in their fighting they show wonderful caution and judgment, and are always quick to seize an advantage. To use his own words:
"I have held many a wolf crushed to the ground by the under jaw, my hand firmly holding it behind the canine teeth, watching his eyes, to see whether he would give up, but he never shows the slightest sign of submission. A wolf will sometimes rest, however, while thus held, and then begin again the struggle for life and freedom, but not a cry will he utter, nor give in in any way. Wolves are very loyal to their kind, and often when one of their number is being hotly pursued by the dogs, others will come to the aid of the one in danger, and, in the vernacular of the hunter, will ‘double up' on the dogs, and if the hunter is not close at hand to scatter them by shouting, or by a few shots from his gun, they will often cut them to pieces,' as we express it, and sometimes kill them outright.
"This would indicate that the wolf possesses a power of reasoning. One wolf is not afraid of one dog, no matter how vicious or large the dog, and two wolves will attack one dog eagerly and with seeming delight. They are brave when not outnumbered; but they seem always to realise when they are outnumbered, or their lives in danger, and will at once flee. They are not afraid of pedestrians, vehicles or slow-moving objects, and will often come near moving vehicles in an inquiring manner, reconnoitring, so to speak, and often following travellers for miles and miles. Whether they do this to determine upon an attack, or in search of food, is not known, but this habit of following caravans or waggons is often observed by travellers, and a device often resorted to by the hunter is to keep the dogs in a covered vehicle until within running range of the wolf, which is from a quarter of a mile to a mile. A four-hundred-yard start is considered a' close run' for the hounds, which, if fleet, will capture them within three- fourths of a mile to two miles. Occasionally, however, a wolf is 'jumped,' which will lead the dogs a merry chase from five to ten miles.
"When a single wolf is chased by one dog he will run until he becomes very tired, then turn upon the dog and chase him back to his master. I believe this to be mock bravery or 'bluff,' as they often resort to the device seemingly to get time to rest. At any rate, this bravery or bluff, whichever it may be, succeeds in gaining for them a few moments in which to rest. But one wolf will not turn upon two dogs; this would still further seem to indicate that the animal possesses some intelligence, or power of reasoning."
One of the most thrilling adventures of this plucky hunter happened some time ago. Mr. Abernethy had broken camp on Deep Red, in the southern part of Oklahoma, and had started for home with seven wolves. They were caged in a waggon, driven by his nephew, to whom he had given instructions that if he should "jump" another wolf, his nephew was to stop the waggon, take an extra horse and follow him. Mr. Abernethy had not gone three miles when he "jumped" three wolves. Having only two dogs with him the race promised to be more than interesting. After going another three miles one of the dogs threw a wolf. The hunter's horse was going so fast at that moment that he ran right over one of his dogs, killing it instantly, and at the same time tumbling to the ground. This caused a little delay, so that by the time he had mounted again and ridden back for the wolf, it had cut the other dog severely and made off. This made the hunter more determined than ever to get that wolf, and urging his horse on, he chased him hard for over a mile over frightfully rough and uneven ground, followed by the wounded dog. This plucky dog, instead of giving in, kept up until he had actually succeeded in catching the wolf, nipping him so sharply in the hind leg that both dog and wolf tumbled over in a heap.
By this time Mr. Abernethy was riding side by side with the dog and wolf, and as the two fell together, he leaped upon the wolf, letting his horse go free. Like lightning he had caught the wolf by the under jaw, and held him as though in a vise, and then realised that he was indeed in a desperate plight. His horse was gone, his only dog completely done up, he was himself thoroughly exhausted with the long ride and the final struggle, he held a live, vicious wolf by the jaw, and to add to his difficulties, at this moment the other two wolves, who had been running cautiously at a distance until they saw the hunter fall from his horse, now came up and attacked him fiercely. He had nothing whatever with which to protect himself except his feet, as he was astride the wolf, with both hands in his mouth, the animal showing most unusual signs of strength and endurance. With all the strength at his command he kicked off the two wolves, and kept them back until he got one hand free, and with this he managed to get out his knife, and opened it with his teeth. Kicking at one wolf with his feet, he struck with all his might at the other one, breaking the blade of his knife in its shoulder. Quieted a little by the pain and loss of blood, but not a bit daunted, the wounded wolf drew back and crouched down with an evil glare in his eyes.
There was a deep gash in his shoulder, but he gave no signs of having had enough. On the contrary, he seemed likely to attack again at any moment. It was useless to try to kill the wounded wolf with a bladeless knife, and at this moment the other wolf attacked him again. In vain the hunter tried to think out some scheme of escape; there seemed to be none. Quite desperate, Mr. Abernethy now got up, dragged his captured wolf by one hand, and walked to a high mound nearby, with the vague hope that help might be near at hand. When he reached the top of the mound he saw to his horror a herd of wild steers not more than a quarter of a mile away. Seeing some moving objects, the steers at once moved quickly toward the hunter and the struggling wolf, their heads held high, and snorting in a way these animals have when approaching any objects with which they are not familiar. By this time the hunter was indeed in a hopeless plight. A live wolf in his hand, two others behind him, a herd of wild range steers racing toward him, and not so much as a stick or a stone with which to protect himself.
However, John Abernethy is not a man to be daunted, even in such a desperate emergency as this, and he now decided that the wisest course would be for him to hold his wolf as close to the earth as possible, and lie flat on him. Accordingly, with a desperate struggle, for this wolf was the strongest he had ever tackled, he threw the wolf to the ground once more and sprawled on top of him. As he did this, the whole herd, bellowing madly, quickened their pace and made a rush toward him, pawing and throwing up the dirt, and it seemed as though he would certainly be trampled to death. Fortunately at this moment, his nephew, who had been told to follow him, climbed on the top of the waggon to see if he could catch sight of his uncle, and just as he did so, noticed the herd of wild steers and their peculiar movements. Suspecting that something was wrong, although he was unable to see anything of his uncle, the boy seized a revolver, loaded it, and rode toward the herd at a breakneck speed. On coming within shooting range of the wild cattle, he fired a few shots into them at random. This caused an instant stampede among them, and they scattered in all directions, throwing up clouds of dust, jumping clean over the fallen hunter and wolf, kicking and snorting in sheer terror. It seems an absolute miracle that the man and wolf were not instantly killed, yet wonderful to relate, neither was injured.
I think it says much for the endurance of wolves that, after all this time, the racing and desperate struggling, this particular wolf even then showed no signs of giving in. Mr. Abernethy states that after all this struggle he watched the eyes of this wolf particularly, but he gave back look for look, and struggled again with as much strength and determination as ever. Like all his kind he would not give in until he was dead.
I have asked various trainers of wild animals about wolves. Few, it seems, are ever trained to perform, their treachery and viciousness being the chief objections. One trainer said while one wolf went through his tricks, another would undoubtedly attack the trainer. An instance was given me of a wolf who had been reared from a tiny puppy, and who suddenly attacked his mistress and killed her; that is to say, she died eventually from the effects of the bites.
One well-known trainer of the fiercest tigers I have ever seen, who seems not to know what fear is, said he would not perform with wolves "because they are so mean and treacherous you can never tell what they are going to do."
Mr. Hornaday says: "Of all the wild animals of North America, none are more despicable than wolves. There is no depth of meanness, treachery, or cruelty to which they do not cheerfully descend. They are the only animals on earth which make a regular practice of killing and devouring their wounded comrades and eating their own dead. I once knew a male wolf to kill and half devour his female cage-mate, with whom he had lived a year. In captivity, no matter how well yarded, well fed or comfortable, a wolf will watch and coax for hours to induce a neighbour in the next cage to thrust through tail or paw, so that he may instantly seize and chew it off without mercy. But in the face of foes capable of defence, even grey wolves are rank cowards, and unless cornered in a den, will not even stop to fight for their own cubs."
President Roosevelt, in one of the most interesting chapters of his latest book, "Pastimes of an American Hunter," tells of some interesting facts about wolves. At one time he found the dead body of a large steer, and the trampled ground showed that he had fought fiercely before giving in. He says: "There had been two wolves engaged in the work, and the cunning beasts had evidently acted in concert. Apparently, while one attracted the steer's attention in front, the other, according to the invariable wolf habit, attacked him from behind, hamstringing him and tearing out his flank. His body was still warm when I came up, but the marauders had slunk off, either smelling or seeing me."
I think, also, President Roosevelt's following remarks on the habits of wild beasts, and the difference of opinion among various observers, express what so many feel who have studied animals in any way:
" Not only do the habits of wild beasts change under changing conditions as time goes on, but there seems to be some change even in their appearance. Thus, the early observers of the game of the Little Missouri, those who wrote in the first half of the nineteenth century, spoke much of the white wolves which were then so common in the region. These white wolves represented in all probability only a colour variety of the ordinary grey wolf; and it is difficult to say exactly why they disappeared. Yet, when about the year 1890, wolves again grew common, these white wolves were very, very rare; indeed, I never personally heard of but one being seen. This was on the Upper Cannonball, in 1892. A nearly black wolf was killed not far from this spot in the year 1893. At the present day black wolves are more common than white wolves, which are rare indeed. But all these big wolves are now decreasing in numbers, and in most places are decreasing rapidly.
"It will be noticed that on some points my observations about wolves are in seeming conflict with those of other observers as competent as I am; but I think the conflict is more seeming than real, and I have concluded to let my words stand. The great book of Nature contains many pages which are hard to read, and at times conscientious students may well draw different interpretations of the obscure and least known texts. It may be that either observer is at fault, but what is true of an animal in one locality may not be true of the same animal in another, and even in the same locality two individuals of the same species may differ widely in their traits and habits."
CHAPTER XV - TRAVELLING WITH WILD ANIMALS
We often read an account of the shipping of a large number of wild animals, or of the disembarking, with a humorous paragraph or two about how the elephants trumpeted and the lions roared as a matter of fact, lions seldom make any sound when travelling, unless something unusual occurs. The real thing is very different from the newspaper story. I have been in animal shows when the trainers and animals have just arrived from a journey, and again when they were all getting ready for a voyage, and the work, confusion, and disorder can only be realised by those who have actually witnessed it. The animals always seem to know when they are about to take a journey, and become restless, discontented, and excitable.
In some large menageries and shows, the animals are simply fastened up in their travelling cages, in which they are exhibited, the horses are attached to the waggons, and they are then driven to the station or boat, and wheeled either on the train or up the gangway. But in many cases when they are going a journey, each is carefully packed into the various boxes or dens provided for them. The large carnivora - lions, tigers, pumas, cheetahs, etc. - have tightly made, roomy boxes of hardwood. The tigers' boxes are generally made of teakwood, closely barricaded with iron bars; any other kind of wood would almost surely give way on account of their great strength when they grow restless. Over all the boxes is put strong wire netting; there are two special reasons for this. One is, that it prevents the animals stretching out their paws, and so clawing those in attendance, and it also prevents any pole or instrument from accidentally protruding into the den, and so injuring the occupants. Sometimes these boxes have movable fronts made of boards; this is in case it is considered necessary to transfer an animal from one box to another. In all cases there is a narrow opening left at the bottom for the purpose of passing in food and water, and also for cleaning out the cages.
The boxes provided for bears - especially the big ones - are given special attention, for, as a rule, a bear is particularly restless when he is travelling, and, with his sharp teeth and terrible claws incessantly working inside a cage, every precaution has to be taken. They are made of the hardest wood procurable, and securely lined with either sheet-iron or zinc. I have been told of several bears, however, who, after working and working, have finally succeeded in getting one or two claws underneath the sheet - iron, and when once that was accomplished, the rest was easy. It is very necessary, therefore, to keep watchful eyes on the bears, night and day.
In many cases, elephants are simply made to walk with their keepers to the station or boat, and when this is so, they are generally taken by night to avoid the crowds, and to prevent obstructing the traffic. In other cases, however, they are provided with specially strong boxes lined throughout with sheet-iron. Even then, if they feel inclined, it is easy for them to break through, for nothing short of rock itself will confine an elephant, if it is determined to get out. It seems as though elephants are not particularly fond of travelling, for there have been so many instances of their suddenly breaking out when on their way, and the time of travel with the elephant trainer or keeper is always more or less of a trial and anxiety. It is quite impossible ever to tell what an elephant will do; no animal is more uncertain as regards his movements. Even the oldest and best performers have been known suddenly to leave the arena in the very middle of an act, for no apparent reason, and once an elephant's mind is made up, it is worse than useless to try to stop him.
The big birds and the larger animals with hoofs are usually put into wooden crates with grooved doors, and a floor made of strong boards. Sea-lions and seals go in wooden boxes with open slats, not too wide apart, for these animals bite very severely, especially when travelling and surrounded by strangers. There must always be some kind of tank provided for them, and when on board ship, water is, of course, easy to get.
Giraffes are, perhaps, the most difficult animals to crate, on account of their height, a full-grown giraffe standing about eighteen to twenty feet high. The crates, however, cannot possibly be made as high as that, on account of the various tunnels and bridges through which the trains have to pass, and also because no hold on board ship would be high enough. Therefore, a giraffe, when travelling, is unable to stand in an upright position, but if he gets cramped and tired, it is quite easy for him to lie down and so straighten out and stretch his long, flexible neck, which he very soon learns to do. These beautiful creatures - which are yearly getting more and more rare and expensive - are so extremely delicate that they often die during the voyage, no matter how much care and attention are given them. The London Zoological Society once paid an enormous price for a young giraffe, which finally arrived at the gardens only to die as soon as he was installed in the large, roomy house provided for his kind. Another young one arrived at these same gardens much in the same state, but recovered after a few weeks, when it was then found that he had a large lump on one side of his neck. No-one could imagine how it came there, unless he had been injured in some way when captured, or had twisted his neck while travelling.
In many cases, especially when the animals are being shipped to some large society such as the New York Zoological Park, or the London Zoological Society, all the crates have fastened to them special cards with feeding directions, and unless these directions are carried out in every detail, trouble invariably ensues, for it is the general understanding that all the animals are to be delivered "alive and in good condition." If these precautions were not taken, great financial loss would necessarily ensue. Feeding is, of course, very essential on a long voyage, and careful feeding, too, but watering is far more so. A great many wild animals will be able to subsist for a considerable time without food, but very few can do without water except for a short time. In the largest crates, a pail is generally fastened inside, so that fresh water may be poured in daily. When taking comparatively short journeys on land, it is not necessary to feed the animals, as it is no more to keep them one day without food than it is to compel them to fast one day a week, which is absolutely necessary for the health of the large carnivora.
There is nothing particularly interesting in seeing wild animals embarking, because, as a rule, there is nothing to be seen but a number of large boxes which look like ordinary packing cases. Occasionally the elephants refuse to walk up the gangway, or into a car, and they are then hoisted on board by huge derricks. This part is decidedly interesting, because, as I said before, there is never any telling what an elephant is going to do. Sometimes he takes it quietly, evidently too bewildered to even trumpet, for hoisted in the air in this manner, he is quite helpless. He cannot tear anything down with his trunk, he is unable to stamp on anything with his feet, and he cannot even crush a fly with his huge body. Very often, however, when in mid-air, probably from sheer bewilderment and terror at not feeling anything under him, he will scream as though his last hour had come, twist his trunk about in every direction, and paw the air madly with his big, clumsy feet. But it is all useless; the derrick hoists him higher and higher, and only relaxes its grip when it lowers him into the hold.
Camels are seldom crated at all, but hoisted on board by the derrick. Generally, they are fairly good-tempered, but will occasionally bite viciously. The large carnivora are placed in the hold side by side, and facing one another, the trainers or keepers always seeing that a good six feet of space divides them, forming a passageway. Even then, some bad accidents occasionally happen, and a thoughtless or care less man will get caught by some of the treacherous brutes and sometimes nearly killed.
I was told of a well-known trainer travelling with his animals, who was always followed by his little pet dog. It had been the little dog's custom to follow his master to and fro when he was either feeding the lions or cleaning out their cages, and the little animal seemed to know that it was necessary to keep at a safe distance from the lions. But one day, being perhaps a little closer to the cages than usual, a lion suddenly reached out a paw in that marvellously quick way which all the cat tribe has, and caught the little dog. Once caught, there was no going back. Quick as the trainer was to shout and run to the help of his pet, the lion was quicker, and with a fierce growl he dragged the poor little creature's body through the small opening at the bottom of his cage, and mercifully put an end to him at once. After this, with self-satisfied growls, he calmly proceeded to eat him, crunching up the small bones as easily as he would the bones of a chicken.
The various things required on board when a number of wild animals are about to take a voyage are numerous and interesting. There is the meat for the carnivora in large ice boxes, and, if the voyage is likely to take more than eight or ten days, crates of chickens. These "chickens" consist of old hens, old roosters, with perhaps a few young fowls for the most delicate of the animals. One chicken a day is generally given to each animal, or when it is considered necessary. A lion was once choked to death by a chicken, because a careless attendant had forgotten to cut off the spurs before giving it, the "chicken" being an old rooster of the game variety. When the length of the voyage is in doubt, extra provision is made by taking a number of live horses and keeping them in case of necessity. These are generally old, worn-out animals, but which have been inspected by a veterinary before being taken on board. A horse is killed when wanted, and fresh horseflesh is given sometimes twice a week, great care being taken to let it first hang at least one day.
Most of the animals appear to enjoy the fresh horseflesh as much as, if not more than, the frozen meat, but the "chickens" are the greatest delicacies, especially to lions. So eager are some of them to get one, that as soon as its neck has been wrung, they will get frantic, tear about the cages, paw at the bars, and when it is thrown in, clutch at it with a fierce growl, and sometimes even eat the feathers. Others will walk about the cage with it in their mouths, growling in a satisfied manner, and finally settle themselves in the farthest corner, deliberately lick all the feathers off, discard them, and then crunch the chicken with the keenest enjoyment. And literally all that is left of a chicken when once a lion has got hold of it, are a few fluttering feathers, for every part of it is eaten, inside and outside, head and neck, and even the feet.
If several elephants are about to travel, an enormous amount of feed is necessary, for one elephant alone will consume in a day about two hundred pounds of hay, a bushel or bushel and a half of oats, some vegetables, and eight or nine loaves of bread. He will also take any amount of peanuts, cakes and biscuits, if he can get them, for an elephant always appears to be hungry.
Then there are the huge boxes of sawdust, enormous crates of hay and straw - some for feeding purposes and the rest for bedding, and quantities of disinfectants, one of the most important things of all, for unless animals are kept clean and perfectly sanitary, there is very little hope of their reaching their destination.
There seems to be a difference of opinion regarding the seasickness of wild animals. A great many aver, and reliable authorities, too, that all wild animals are seasick, but I have heard others, who have travelled with them and been in daily contact with them, say that it is not so; that the animals are not well and are uneasy, but that no actual sickness occurs. Sometimes a lion, after chewing wisps of straw, will throw up a little bile, but that is the utmost of his sickness. In any case, there is no doubt whatever that the voyage thoroughly upsets them, and it always takes some time after they reach their destination for them to assume their normal condition. This is not to be wondered at, when the conditions are taken into consideration. The hold of a ship is never a particularly airy or wholesome place by any means, and a lot of wild animals, no matter how clean they are kept, or well attended to, must necessarily make the air more impure than ever. When rough weather appears, and it is found necessary to cover the hatches, the air becomes abominable, and there is no doubt that the poor animals suffer severely.
Not more so, however, than the men who are absolutely obliged to stay with them. Boxes or crates on board ship are not like strong cages with iron bars, and there must be no careless ness, no let-up even for a minute in the watch fulness. All sorts of things might happen, and should an animal get out in the hold, there is grave danger. It is difficult enough to keep one's feet at any time in rough weather, but try to evade a wild animal, in addition, and the chances of success are nil. In the middle of one voyage it was found that a lion had completely torn away the bottom of his cage - the cages are placed on the floor and there was nothing to be done but to let him stay where he was until the ship reached her destination. Then another cage was brought to the front of that occupied by the lion, the sliding door was lifted, and by the inducement of a chicken placed in the other cage, the lion was persuaded to go in, and the door was shut down on him.
Elephants will often break loose when on a voyage. An elephant may be standing in the most placid manner, waving his trunk to and fro, lifting his feet, or making any other little movement to suit his restless nature and keep up his reputation of never being still, when suddenly, seemingly without the least effort, he will tear his thick, heavy chain away from the stanchion, rush after the trainers or helpers, or, far more likely, find his way to where the hay and straw are kept, and have a good feed. And when an elephant makes up his mind to have a feed in this manner he generally has it. It is an odd sight, this breaking out of the elephants on board ship, to those who for the first time see it; the huge beasts scuttling in their heavy, clumsy manner round the hold, their heavy chains clanking behind them; the trainers running wildly about in the vain endeavour to calm them and make them return to their places; and the passengers above, all looking down into the hold with white and scared faces, but with a pleasurable sense of novelty and excitement. Anything in the way of a change is welcomed on board, even with a spice of danger in it, but the excitement of knowing the elephants are loose, and that there is no knowing what may happen, can only be conceived by those who have experienced it.
On one occasion, when the passengers were enjoying a quiet morning in their deck chairs, a large alligator suddenly appeared, and with wide-open mouth, but evidently no evil designs, walked calmly about the deck. But the passengers did not believe in his good intentions, and with shouts and screams rushed below, while Mr. Hagenbeck, the owner, persuaded the alligator, after much difficulty, to return to his own quarters. Another time a man in turning over in his berth felt something heavy on his feet. Thinking it was the captain's cat, he bent down and stroked it, but scarcely had his hand touched it when a heavy body sprang to the floor. It turned out to be an escaped leopard!
In cases of severe sickness, liver is given to the animals, a pound at a time, if procurable it does not seem to matter what kind of liver it is. It all has the same effect, and in nearly all cases restores the animal to health again.
But no matter how good a passage the ship may have had, no matter how calm and well the animals may have been during the voyage, all wild animals are more or less the worse for the trip. The coats of the lions are rough and unkempt, their eyes are red and dim, and the mouth and gums white or very pale. And how glad the poor creatures are to be once more in a roomy, airy cage! They give every token of pleasure and delight, make little crooning noises, roll over on the floor, rub themselves against the bars, purr sometimes, lick themselves carefully all over - always a good sign and even occasionally frolic a little, a thing a lion rarely permits himself to do.
And just as soon as lions are fairly settled in their new home after a voyage, they generally have at least one good roaring fight. Perhaps this is because they have not had the opportunity for so long - for, when travelling, all animals are kept in separate cages or perhaps they are in better spirits; but fight they must, and fight they will, and it is extremely difficult to prevent it. The only thing to do is to keep the fiercest animals apart, for when one lion begins the others follow instantly, and great injuries are sometimes inflicted in these fights. But once they have had a fight, they usually settle down, and become quiet and contented, adapting themselves to their new home and surroundings, and eating and sleeping comfortably. We have only to look at the wild animals in all the Zoological Gardens, and in the best animal shows, to be convinced that the animals are neither discontented nor miserable.
CHAPTER XVI - CURIOUS FACTS IN ANIMAL LAND
THERE are many curious facts in animal land, and, it seems to me, some very contradictory ones. But to quote President Roosevelt again: "What we want are accurate statements of facts, even if they seem to contradict one an other." Many a man has gleaned the essential truth from these very contradictions. I am not presuming to say that anyone will gather much of value from the facts I have here collected, but every little bit of truth helps, and some of the anecdotes will prove interesting, I hope.
Among the animals which specially interest me is the puma, or cougar, because I believe there is a psychic difference between the puma and the other big wildcats. There are many differing beliefs about this animal. I have talked to scientific men, trainers and keepers about it, and each one has had his own opinion about its temperament and disposition, and nearly all differ in some point or other. One trainer told me pumas could be taught anything; another said it was impossible to teach or train them; yet another said that they were sly, vicious and crafty; while a fourth stated that they were harmless, playful, and good-tempered.
After studying them most carefully, my own opinion was that all pumas were playful and comparatively harmless, but in an interesting correspondence with President Roosevelt some time ago, he said - and he has carefully studied them in their native haunts - that he had never personally seen an adult puma playful; only the younger ones. Since then, I have found - as so often hap pens when a thing is followed up, that there is a great difference in pumas, as in people; so much so that it is difficult to generalise in regard to their habits. Take, for instance, two of the pumas at the New York Zoological Park. They are as different - and I am making all allowances for the individuality of each - as it is possible for two animals of the same species to be. Mousie, the younger, is a gentle, playful, sweet-tempered animal, always ready for a romp, always eager to turn over on her back for a delicious stroking under her soft chin, and purring at everything and everybody, just to show she appreciates all the attention to the full.
About two years ago, when Mousie was quite a young thing, the keeper went to give her her breakfast one morning and found the cage empty. Notice was at once given to the Director, and inquiries were telegraphed and tele phoned in all directions, but no one seemed either to have seen or heard of the young wild cat. People were afraid to go into the Park, or allow the children in the neighborhood, although the Director explained that it was only a young one, and peculiarly good-tempered and harmless.
No news came about the wanderer for two days, then tales began to spread about its appearance here and there - a man had seen it one night with its eyes blazing; another had heard of its scratching a child - but there was no substantiation of all this, till on the third day news came of the wanderer. At a small farm nearby, a farmer's wife went out one evening to feed her chickens as usual, and found them all huddled together in one corner, with the old hens clucking warning of an enemy. The farmer's wife at once thought of hawks, and made a noise with her tin pans, but the hens remained as frightened as before. Rats were the next things which suggested themselves to her, and she went inside the chicken-coops to look about. And inside one of the coops she found a large, tawny cat, who stopped licking its paws to look at her inquiringly, as though to ask what she wanted. And after being struck by the size and colour of the animal, the farmer's wife suddenly remembered the young puma which had been lost from the New York Zoological Park, and without a moment's hesitation shut the door of the coop on it.
The young puma seemed puzzled for a moment, but after mewing a little, settled down as comfortably as though in her own cage, and stayed like that until one of the keepers came and took her back to her old home. The public soon heard that the puma had been caught in a chicken-coop, and conjured up visions of the awful damage it had done, and of the terrible fright the farmer's wife must have had, and trooped up to the Park in droves to gaze their fill at the fierce wildcat, now that it was safely confined within iron bars once more. And when the people saw the gentle, playful creature, frisking about like a young kitten, patting the bars playfully, pretending to be frightened and running away to hide, running out again, rolling on its back, and purring just like their own domestic cats, they were duly disappointed.
Many a time I have stood just outside this puma's cage, and put my hands through the bars, stroking her, to her great delight, while she rolled over with pleasure. It needs now only my presence to make her come forward with a graceful bound, rub against the bars, and do all in her power to make me understand that she wants me to do it all over again and just as long as I care to do it. And as a reward, she purrs her loudest. Never once have I seen this puma show the slightest indication of ill - temper or viciousness; neither have I noticed any craftiness or cunning in her.
But now notice the difference with the other puma, Turk. The slightest study of his face alone will reveal something of the vast difference there is between the two. As for stroking or even touching this animal, it would be fool hardy and dangerous. He is constantly growling - a peculiar murmuring growl, which I have never heard in any other of the cat tribe - his brows are always drawn in a perpetual frown, his ears are always alert, and at the least indication of a movement toward him, he will fling himself against the netting, swearing in his guttural way, then crouch down with his forepaws working convulsively, as though longing for an opportunity to get hold of the intruder. As for playfulness, he does not seem even to know what it means, and a playful movement of the hand which would send the other puma into ecstasies only works him up into the wildest fits of rage. He looks at Mousie in the next cage, when she is being frivolous, with the greatest disdain and disgust, and growls just a little more than usual.
I have watched him many a time with a curious fascination, for his is a wonderful face, and the possibilities of evil in it are appalling. As he stands there he makes a handsome picture, for he is a beautiful animal, one of the finest specimens in the country, and I grow more and more interested. Never, even among the fiercest wild animals, have I ever seen such viciousness, evilness, and savagery stamped on an animal's face, and when I remember that I have frequently said that I believed all pumas were playful - of course I know nothing about them in their wild state, I am only speaking of those I have seen in captivity - I feel once more that it is never wise to generalise about any wild animal.
I was with a show when, early one morning, a puma got out. I met it sniffing at everything that came in its way. It appeared very restless and uneasy, but as soon as the trainer called it, it went back at once to its cage, and seemed glad to get there. My impression is, that had not the keeper appeared at that moment it would have allowed me to stroke it. But no one can be sure at any time of what a wild animal will do. Among all the curious facts in animal land I do not think any are more contradictory than those about the puma.
It is said that elephants are terrified of mice, and that the reason for this is, that occasionally a mouse will run up the inside of an elephant's trunk, presumably for the small grains of corn which sometimes adhere to it. Whatever the reason, an elephant certainly is afraid of these tiny creatures, but then it must be remembered that elephants are very easily frightened at anything moving round them, no matter how small or insignificant it may be.
Mr. George Cochran, the menagerie manager at Barnum & Bailey's, told me that he has known a small, strange dog to cause a stampede among a large herd of elephants. The tiny eyes of an elephant are sunk deeply in his large head, and this makes it extremely difficult for him to see anything at either side of him, and he is of course unable to determine the size of the moving object until he sees it. A giraffe can see even behind him, owing to the curious formation of his eyes, which bulge out; but an elephant is only able to see directly in front of him, unless he turns his head. Though many an elephant has been known to run away from a mouse, at the New York Hippodrome there was an elephant, called Lena, who actually caught and killed mice. The elephant would either catch up the mouse in her trunk, and throw it against the wall, when a little grey heap would fall to the floor lifeless, or she would put her foot on it, and needless to say, there would not be even a little grey heap left of the poor little creature, but one facetious reporter, when describing this incident, said: "And when the body came to be examined, life was found to be extinct." As far as I know this is the only case on record of a mouse-killing elephant.
Mr. John Jennison, the Director of the Zoological Gardens at Manchester, England, sent me a photograph of their famous drill monkey, which is the largest ever known in captivity. His wonderful size and colouring have quite revolutionised most naturalists' knowledge of the animal. The most curious fact about this animal, however, is that it has been reared from a tiny young one in the open air. There has been a theory for a great number of years that all primates must be kept in a certain warm temperature, but this seems to prove that it is just as healthy for them to live at a much lower temperature. Mr. Hornaday has been trying experiments with his monkeys in the open air, and, so far, it seems to have been a success. At the Jardin d'Acclimation, Paris, there is an infirmary expressly for sick monkeys, but here the temperature is kept very high by hot-water pipes running under the floor. The object is to keep up an even temperature without drying the air.
In the Zoological Gardens at Cologne, Germany, leopards, cheetahs (hunting leopards), a puma, jaguar, and black leopard, a pair of Bengal tigers and a pair of Siberian tigers, and six lions spend their lives in the open air, even staying outside at night. The most wonderful thing of all is, that the lions can often be seen in the depth of winter lying in the snow and apparently perfectly comfortable and contented. If, with the present progress of knowledge and experience, wild animals from the hot countries can be kept in the open air, there will be an immense saving of expenditure in all our Zoological Gardens, not only as regards the fuel, but also in the matter of labour.
There is, or was - I am not sure whether he is still living - a monkey in the Zoological Gardens at Nice-Cimiez, France, that is a veritable woman-hater. He is friendly with any man, even the veriest stranger, but to any woman, whether old or young, he will show nothing but intense dislike and anger. Not even the most tempting dainty will he take from a woman's hands, nor will he eat it if she throws it into his cage. There was no apparent reason known for this intense dislike, and it was proved - or so I have been told that it was not the woman's clothes, because a man once put on a woman's, clothes, and the monkey, after a moment of doubt, was just as friendly as before. This, however, may have been because the monkey knew the man, as all performing animals know their trainers, no matter what change in dress they make.
Occasionally, when a trainer has a particularly savage or suspicious animal, he will take the precaution to stand in front of the cage a short while in a new and totally different costume, in order to get the animal accustomed to it, but, as a rule, after the first few moments, the animal knows his trainer perfectly well. And my own opinion is that it was the same with the monkey in the Nice-Cimiez Gardens.
Dr. F. A. Crandall, the Curator of the Buffalo Zoo, sends me some curious facts about the prairie dogs burying their dead. These little animals are so well known, and their habits and manner of living are so interesting, that I think the account of how they die and are buried by their own kind adds very greatly to their inter est. Dr. Crandall says:
"In digging up our prairie - dog village, in order to repair the sewer connections, the men came across places where tunnels having dead dogs had been plugged and abandoned. The den was about fifteen inches high by about twenty-four inches in diameter, and had two passages coming into it - one from the top, and one from the bottom. Excavations had been made in the side wall, about twice as large as a dog, and the body put in. The dog was not covered with dirt, but a wall of clay two to three inches thick put in front and tamped into place. Both places were so pronounced that the common labourers noticed it and sent for me. In eight years I have had at least forty dogs die in the prairie-dog village, which is a brick cistern eight and a half feet deep by about twenty feet in diameter, covered with wire, so that it is an impossibility for the dogs to get out, and we have only found two dead animals on the surface, or in holes where we could trace them, and at no time have we detected the slightest smell of decaying carcases."
The old tradition that the prairie dogs, burrowing owls and rattlesnakes live all together in the same burrows, has been disproved in more than one instance. Mr. A. E. Brown, of the Philadelphia Zoological Gardens, once put some burrowing owls to live with the prairie dogs, but the latter at once turned on the owls and tore them to pieces. As for the rattlesnakes, I do not believe that either a burrowing owl or a prairie dog would be so senseless as to stay longer than they could possibly help in close quarters with such a deadly enemy.
Mr. Hornaday, in his "American Natural History," gives some very interesting details about prairie dogs. His opinion is that they are sociable little fellows, and the most cheerful of all the rodents, but well able to take care of themselves and settle their own differences. He relates an amusing instance of the punishment of one of them: "Once when an inmate of the prairie-dog village in the New York Zoological Park incurred the hostility of four of his mates, they drove him into his burrow, filled up the mouth of it with moist earth, and with their noses tamped it down quite hard, the prisoner scolding vigorously meanwhile. "
CHAPTER XVII - OBTAINING INFORMATION
It is the opinion of Mr. John Burroughs that "Good observers are probably about as rare as good poets," and I think what follows a little further on is also worth repeating: "Accurate seeing an eye that takes in the truth, and nothing but the truth - how rare in deed it is! So few persons know or tell exactly what they see; so few persons can draw a right inference from an observed fact; so few persons can keep from reading their own thoughts and preconceptions into what they see; only a person with the scientific habit of mind can be trusted to report things as they are." The first time I read these words, I doubted a little, but since then I have had the truth of it all brought home to me in many ways.
All things considered, I find that it is really very difficult to obtain reliable information except from a comparatively few people. For instance, I had written to nearly every Zoological Garden and small Zoo in Europe and the United States, stating clearly what I wanted to know, even numbering my questions, asking politely for information on certain subjects, and adding that all sources of information would be acknowledged. Many never acknowledged my letter. And in some instances I have, after giving them plenty of time to answer, written the second; and in several cases I have received answers like the following:
"Dear Madam: If you will tell us what it is you want to know, we shall be pleased to give you the information."
"Dear Madam: Your letter received. We have some hundreds of animals in these gardens, but do not know which you would like to hear about. "
"Dear Miss: We have plenty of animals. I am the head keeper. Do you like lions or tigers, and we have two fine leopards, and they are kept indoors in the winter, but go out in the summer. Please tell me which you like."
"Dear Madam: If I took the trouble to tell you all you want to know, I might as well write the book myself and keep the profits. Why should I take the trouble to send all those facts to an entire stranger that I know nothing about? and if I did, how do I know to what purpose you are going to put them? No, my dear Madam, I cannot even say that I regret I cannot answer your questions, because I consider that you want to get a great deal for nothing, and reap the benefit yourself at the expense of other people."
"My Dear Madam: We have nothing here which would interest you."
"Dear Mrs Velvin my husbun is away he is keeper as this is a small garden he works very hard and has consumshun but he loves all the animals he will be back soon the tiger is still sick he cort cold when it raind rite away yours respective "
But in all cases where I have received answers, how different it has been! Pleasure at receiving my letter, at my asking them for information, an assurance that they are only too pleased to be able to help me, and in many cases photographs from their own private films which they are willing I should use for publication such has been the result. It seems to me that in this matter, as in all other things, it all depends upon the way in which people look at things. I have also received some very valuable information from keepers and trainers, who have the unusual privilege and opportunity of being with and seeing the animals day by day, and know, or surely ought to know, something about them. Yet such information is sometimes inaccurate through carelessness, or mischief, or a boyish desire to have fun at my expense.
I noticed in one large show a huge lump on the forehead of one of the elephants. There is, of course, always a slight projection there, but this was certainly abnormal, and I was very interested. I asked one of the helpers what it was, and he said the elephant had fallen down and hurt himself! Not being satisfied with this statement, I waited until the head trainer arrived, and then put to him the same question. This man knew I was allowed to go in and out of the show because I was writing a book about animals, and he had been told to give me all the help and information he could; and, in answer to my question, he assured me, with the utmost gravity, that the bump showed that the elephant was particularly intelligent, because that was really the bump of knowledge! He also informed me that it was easy to tell an elephant that had been born in captivity and one that had not, by his ears. Those who had very large ears were those born in the wild state, so that they could flap their ears and keep off the flies - flies on an elephant's skin! - and those with the smaller ears were born in captivity, because the flies did not trouble them so much!
In one of the large circuses I was shown a large hippopotamus, who, I was told, had been there for twenty-five years, and had never been in water all that time! I suppose I looked doubtful, for the man then assured me on his solemn word of honour that he knew it to be true because he had had the charge of that animal himself. I could scarcely believe that anyone would give me his word of honour in this manner unless he were telling the truth, and wondered whether I had hit on a wonderful fact, an other contradiction in natural history. I told one or two scientific men about it, who smiled and shook their heads. I went day after day to that show, studied the huge animal, and talked again to the man about it, but he never wavered in his story, and I did not see how a large creature like a hippopotamus could have a tank in a travelling circus, when it lived in one cage on wheels. But being still doubtful, I went to that show in the early morning, and, there being only one or two of the workmen about, climbed up on the wheels of the hippopotamus' cage, bringing myself on a level with the floor.
And there on one side of the cage, sunk down between the high hind wheels, was a large tank full of water. I think my only feeling at first was one of annoyance at having allowed myself to be so deceived, and then I congratulated myself on having taken the trouble to investigate the matter. I asked another keeper about this, and he said they had only had the hippopotamus some ten years, and he and all the seals and sea-lions always had tanks filled with water, except when travelling. When travelling long distances, stops were made, a hose attached to the cages of those animals who were unable to live entirely out of the water, and after allowing the. animals to have a good bath, the tanks were emptied, and the caravans went on for another short distance, when the same performance was repeated.
I heard of one good story where a strange man went to some Zoological Gardens, and, after looking at the seals, asked the keeper what they ate.
"Oh, fried eggs, and little things like that," was the answer.
"Anything else?" asked the stranger.
"Sometimes a bit of steak and onions, or a chop or two," said the keeper. "Anything else I can tell you?"
"No, thank you," the stranger answered politely. "I only want to know because I am the new Superintendent of the Gardens, and want to be sure that the keepers give the public accurate information when they are asked civil and natural questions."
I listened to a thrilling story once about a man-eating tiger (we were standing in front of the cage, and the animal was tearing restlessly to and fro, looking in vain for some outlet, at the sides, overhead, and making a curious murmuring noise all the time) who had killed four men, wounded two, and was so vicious that his food had to be passed in to him on a long fork which had had to be made specially for him. And just as the story had been worked up to its most thrilling point, another trainer came along, interrupted the story and told me that the tiger had only arrived the night before from Germany, and had not settled down yet. Even trainers like to spin a good yarn.
I was told of another tiger in a circus a short time ago, who, it was asserted, always grew restless and excited when a certain tune was played. I was very interested, and actually saw him, as the tune was played, grow restless and uneasy, and finally get up and walk to and fro. But on thinking the matter over, it suddenly dawned on me that the tune was the last on the programme, and that just after that the animals were fed! This casual fact spoiled a very pretty and interesting little story.
It is always well to try and find out whether there is not some cause for these little idiosyncrasies of animals. This makes the real facts, when one gets them, all the more valuable.
But it must not be considered for one moment that trainers and keepers cannot usually be relied upon for information. Far from it. The majority of them are most willing to do all in their power, and what they say is not only accurate, but often most carefully studied. I have spent some of the pleasantest and most interesting hours of my life listening to them, and I look upon a great many of them as friends. The keepers in the New York Zoological Park are specially courteous and kindly, and are always ready to do anything in their power for me.
As for the many trainers, men and women, whom I count my friends, there is scarcely anything I enjoy more than visiting them. I am deeply interested in all their trials - for the trainer of wild beasts has many great trials they are very interesting in themselves, and some fine characters are to be found among them.