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The Zebra is another member of the ass tribe, and inhabits the hilly districts of the Cape, and the elevated lands of Guinea ; where its numerous troops may be seen sweeping over the parched deserts with an activity which proves that some animals can at least be happy in those barren lands. The white body marked by black bands has long made this animal an object of curiosity to natural historians; but we cannot say that the creature is of any particular use to mankind, being tamed with the greatest difticulty, unless when captured young. Whether experiments have been sufficiently decisive to warrant the opinion that the fullgrown zebra is untameable, may admit of some doubt. There may be certain animals which bid defiance to the subjecting powers of man, but we must be careful not to multiply such cases without much and minute examination ; for the instances are rare in which brute instinct does not yield to the controlling influence of reason. Whether the zebra is capable of perfect subjection to man, or is destined to remain in perpetual freedom, is not however a question of much importance ; for with the services of the horse and the ass, we do not need the aid of another variety.
Here must terminate the survey of the equida, which is of course too brief to illustrate all the peculiarities of the various species, but sufficiently distinct, we trust, to present the important characteristics of the race to each reader.
AFTER the survey just taken of the horse, another interesting beast of burden may properly claim our attention. The elephant does not indeed walk through the streets, nor crowd Temple Bar with its huge form, nor carry our Sovereign through the capital; but we have all heard of the mighty quadruped ; a few may even have ridden one in the Zoological Gardens; and some information respecting its habits and uses will not, it is presumed, be uninteresting to the readers of this volume. Some persons experience the highest delight in observing those minute forms of animal life which the microscope reveals, and devote years of patient toil to inspect the muscles of a snail, or the joints in a butterfly's wing. We do not say that such studies are without important results, for they unfold the marvels veiled in the small things of the universe; but the larger forms of life must not be neglected, for they also have their important lessons to utter. We cannot gaze upon
the elephant without being impressed with the wonderful nature of so vast a living machine; and when we see the muscular trunk pick up a pin from the ground at one time, and lift a cannon from the earth at another, admiration and curiosity take possession of our imaginations. Let us briefly consider some things in the structure of the elephant. The trunk is that which first excites our attention, not merely because no other living creature possesses such a singular instrument, but from the beautiful organisation of the whole member. Though, strictly speaking, it is but an extension of the nostrils, yet we may regard it as a species of hand, designed with the highest wisdom to fit the elephant for its condition, and also as a receptacle for holding water for the animal's
The most unreflecting person can see one important use of this member; for how could the elephant procure food were it deprived of such a grasping instrument? The mouth is high above the earth, and the form of the body will not allow the lips to reach the ground. Some instrument was therefore required to crop the herbage at the animal's feet; and for this the elastic and powerful trunk is admirably fitted. Does the elephant wish to pull up a few blades of grass, the trunk can effect this with ease, for the extremity is furnished with a mechanism which may be called the thumb and finger of the elephant. With this apparatus the animal can pick up the very smallest substance; or, when it pleases, raise the most ponderous bodies. The great flexibility of the trunk is as wonderful as its powers; and to produce this result an astonishing amount of muscular mechanism exists. What does the reader think of a combination of 40,000 distinct muscles acting in the trunk alone? It is not therefore surprising to find the proboscis capable of great extension and facility of movement in all directions. Nor must any imagine that the above statement is the result of mere guess-work; the trunk has been repeatedly examined by anatomists fond of such minute studies, and these observers have actually counted nearly that number of muscles. Thus, although the trunk is about eight feet long, and massive in proportion, there is nevertheless abundant power for directing all its movements, whether above or below, or from side to side. It lifts food, raises vast quantities of water, which the animal discharges over its body to cool the heated skin, or pours down its throat to assuage thirst. We must, however, remark that some uses have been ascribed to the trunk by the lovers of the marvellous, which are not supported by observation of the elephant's habits. Thus it has been said, that the young animals suck the milk from the dam by the trunk ; but those best acquainted with the quadrupeds have never witnessed the attempt. I'he young animal is doubtless too short to obtain its food by the mouth. The elephant-owners remedy this by placing a small mound of earth near the parent animal
, upon which the young one places itself, and thus is enabled to reach the milk. Now, it may appear surprising that the trunk is not employed under these circumstances by the young elephant, especially as it is usually ready to employ its trunk for almost every purpose; but, however much we might have expected to find the trunk so employed, we cannot contradict the testimony of persons long conversant with the habits of the elephant in all stages of its growth. In this matter, as in all others, it is absurd to put supposition against fact; it must therefore be admitted that the young animal does not employ its trunk for the purpose just stated.' But whilst we cannot admit the truth of the above assertion, there are remaining numerous facts connected with the trunk fitted to excite our curiosity and wonder. We have already called this instrument the elephant's hand, an expression justified by the language of those who inhabit the extensive regions over which this stately beast roams. Thus the Caffre, when speaking of the animal, exclaims, “The elephant is a great lord, and the trunk is his hand.”
Of the 40,000 muscles already mentioned, some run crossways and others lengthways; the former being necessary to produce the side-motion, and the latter securing the means of protruding or retracting the proboscis. One peculiarity of the trunk has long wearied the attention of anatomists, for this powerful instrument is without any bone; and the question is, how such a member can be so powerfully moved without any solid prop for the muscles to act upon.
Another fact is, the power of closing the aperture in the trunk so as to prevent water from entering the head of the animal. This was evidently essential to the preservation of the elephant, which often fills the trunk with water; and were this not checked in its ascent, fatal consequences would result.
The sensibility of the trunk is another quality of this member ; this enables the animal to ascertain the exact nature, bulk, and figure of all surrounding bodies, when prevented fron detecting the presence of objects by sight; some elephants when attacked by blindness have employed the sensitive extremities of their trunk's to feel their way along the ground. In these cases it was interesting to mark how surely the keen sense of touch sufficed to guide thein in safety over rough surfaces. The protuberance of the trunk, called the finger, is allowed to skim along the ground as the elephant moves, and by this means every dangerous hollow or chasm is avoided.
That the animal is fully aware of the great importance of its trunk, is proved by the extreme caution exercised to protect it from injury. Thus, when charging a tiger, the elephant, however furious he may be, does not omit to raise the trunk high in air, out of the reach of the tiger's claws. Should the smallest part
· This remark may not be true of the young in the wild state; if the trunk is never used to reach the milk, the young must always require an elevation, or the parent must stoop.
be scratched, the elephant is overpowered with terror, and resists every attempt to induce him to maintain the combat. Whatever danger therefore may assail the elephant, the trunk is rarely injured, from the extreme care taken of this instrument. The animal is probably aware, from instinct, that its life would be endangered by any serious damage to this member, for food cannot be conveyed to the mouth when the proboscis bas lost its muscular power.
A tame elephant's trunk was once accidentally cut by a sharp instrument, and from that moment the wounded creature required the constant care of men, being unable to feed itself. This mode of raising food to the mouth is peculiar to the elephant; other creatures, when their bodies are elevated, have a long neck, by which the mouth is brought near the food, as in the case of the giraffe. The elephant, therefore, presents to our contemplation a structure having no resemblance to that of other animals. The trunk, however, is as advantageously fitted to the vast body as the head of the antelope to its more graceful form. When the great power of the trunk is considered, we may be surprised that the elephant so rarely uses as a weapon of attack. But this clearly arises from the animal's dread of injury to this organ; which is, therefore, raised out of the way in the shock of battle. Missiles are sometimes thrown with it, but this does not bring the trunk into immediate contact with peril. The sensitiveness of this member, and the terror produced in the animal by any injury to it, were facts evidently known to the Roman soldiers in the Punic wars. When the Carthaginians advanced their war-elephants, the spear-men were ordered to dart their javelins into the trunks of the opposing beasts. This stratagem not only rendered the animals themselves useless, but tended to throw all the antagonist troops into confusion ; for the elephants, when thus wounded, rushed headlong upon the ranks of their owners, and thus broke the cohorts of those who had trained them for battle. But the great force of the animal, and his oft-repeated successes in breaking through the ranks of the well-ordered legions, made him a dreaded enemy to the ancient foot-soldier. It was, therefore, a condition in all treaties with the defeated enemies of Rome, that they should cease to train elephants for war. Such were the terms imposed upon Carthage, upon Antiochus, and upon the Numidians after their defeat by Metellus.
The elephant sometimes employs his trunk to promote his own comfort by using it as a shower-bath. On these occasions the animal fills the trunk with water, and then, erecting the machine, pours the whole contents over the back and sides in a refreshing shower. Frequently is the wild elephant seen thus disporting itself in the cooling waters of some lake, where, undisturbed by the hunter, the quadruped enjoys a freedom from alarm and strife. The trunk is also used to wave a branch of a tree to and fro around the head, in order to keep off the insects which infest the places