The singular conformation of this bird, so different in many respects from that of the Order to which both in its leading characters and in its habits it obviously belongs, rendered it for a long time one of the torments of ornithologists, who puzzled themselves in vain to assign it a definitive place in the system, and could not agree even with regard to the grand division of the class to which it ought to be referred. Thus M. Temminck was at one time inclined to refer it to the Gallinaceous Order; and M. Vieillot, after repeatedly changing his mind upon the subject, at last arranged it among the Waders, with which it has absolutely nothing in common except the length of its legs. It appears, however, to be now almost universally admitted that its closest affinity is with the Vultures, with which it agrees in the most essential particulars of its organization, and from which it differs chiefly in certain external characters alone, which unquestionably give to it an aspect exceedingly distinct, but are not of themselves of sufficient importance to authorize its removal to a distant part of the classification. It constitutes in fact one of those mixed and aberrant forms by means of which the arbitrary divisions of natural objects established by man are so frequently assimilated to each other in the most beautiful, and occasionally in the most unexpected, manner.
The habits and manners of the Black Bear resemble those of the brown almost as closely as his physical characters. In a state of nature he seeks the recesses of the forest, and passes his solitary life in wild and uncultivated deserts, far from the society of man, and avoiding even that of the animal creation. His usual food consists of the young shoots of vegetables, of their roots, which he digs up with his strong and arcuated claws, and of their fruits, which he obtains by means of the facility with which the same organs enable him to climb the loftiest trees. He possesses indeed the faculty of climbing in a most extraordinary degree, and frequently exercises it in the pursuit of honey, of which he is passionately fond. When all these resources fail him, he will attack the smaller quadrupeds, and sometimes even animals of considerable size; familiarity with danger diminishing his natural timidity, and the use of flesh begetting a taste for its continued enjoyment. He is also said, like the Polar Bear, to have a peculiar fondness for fish, and is frequently met with on the borders of lakes and on the coast of the sea, to which he has resorted for the gratification of this appetite. Notwithstanding his apparent clumsiness, he swims with the greatest dexterity, the excessive quantity of fat with which he is loaded serving to buoy him up in the water; in this way he frequently crosses the broadest rivers, or even very considerable arms of the sea.
Of all the quadrupeds which inhabit the northern regions of the American continent, the Grizzly Bear is unquestionably the most formidable and the most dreaded. Superior to the rest of his tribe, not excepting even the polar species, in bulk, in power, in agility, and in the ferocity of his disposition, it is not to be wondered at that he should be regarded by the native Indians with an almost superstitious terror, and that some portion of this feeling should have been communicated even to the civilized travellers, who have occasionally met with him in the wild and desolate regions which are subject to his devastations. In the Journals of some of these travellers we find recorded such astonishing instances of his strength, ferocity, and extraordinary tenacity of life as would indeed amaze us, were we not aware how much the human mind is prone, under certain circumstances, to fall into exaggeration, in many cases most certainly unintentional. Making, however, all due allowances for the existence of this very natural feeling, we are bound to acknowledge that there are few animals who can compete with this terrible beast; and that to be made the object of his pursuit is an occurrence well calculated to alarm the stoutest heart, even when provided with the most certain and deadly weapons of human invention, guided by the most experienced eye, and directed by the steadiest hand.
Uniting to the system of dentition, the general habit and many of the most striking peculiarities of the cats, some of the distinguishing features and much of the intelligence, the teachableness, and the fidelity of the dog, the Hunting Leopard forms a sort of connecting link between two groups of animals, otherwise completely separated, and exhibiting scarcely any other character in common than the carnivorous propensities by which both are, in a greater or less degree, actuated and inspired. Intermediate in size and shape between the leopard and the hound, he is slenderer in his body, more elevated on his legs, and less flattened on the fore part of his head than the former, while he is deficient in the peculiarly graceful and lengthened form, both of head and body, which characterize the latter. His tail is entirely that of a cat; and his limbs, although more elongated than in any other species of that group, seem better fitted for strong muscular exertion than for active and long-continued speed. From these indications it may be gathered that he approaches much more nearly to the feline than to the canine group: we shall therefore follow the example of zoologists in general, by referring him for the present and provisionally to the genus Felis, and proceed to point out more particularly the characters by which he is connected with, as well as those by which he is distinguished from, the rest of that formidable and extensive tribe.
If to these two kinds of Menageries we add that which has every where and under all circumstances accompanied the first dawn of civilization, and which constitutes the distinguishing characteristic of man emerging from a state of barbarism and entering upon a new and social state of existence, the possession of flocks and herds, of animals useful in his domestic economy, serviceable in the chase, and capable of sharing in his daily toils, a tolerable idea may be formed of the collections which were brought together in the earliest ages, and were more or less the subjects of study to a race of men who were careless of every thing that had no immediate bearing upon their feelings, their passions, or their interests.下载
In conclusion we have only to add that the fine little Elephant from which our figure was taken appears from his dimensions and from the very small size of his tusks to be little more than three years old. He is extremely good tempered, and became reconciled to his situation almost from the very moment of his arrival.