|Philadelphia Zoological Park|
Should any purist object to the word "zoo" for "zoological garden," be must be reminded of the folly of resisting the popular will, or even a popular whim. The people will not take the time or the trouble to say "zoological garden" when "zoo" will answer all practical purposes. Londoners, even the most elegant, talk of their "Zoo," and the use of this diminutive is so common in this country that one zoological society, and that the second in importance in the country—that of Cincinnati—publishes its catalogue and guide under the title, The Zoo-Zoo, and in the preface to the work the word zoo occurs in all seriousness and without quotation points.
And while upon the subject of verbal innovations, let a plea be made for the word acclimation, legitimate derivation form from our verb acclimate. Acclimatization is unwieldy, and acclimation is too like acclamation in sound; moreover, we are now familiar with the word acclimation as the name of the most important acclimating institution in the world, the Jardin d'Acclimatation at Paris.
To Philadelphia belongs the honor of being the first American city to establish a fine zoological garden. It was opened to the public July 1, 1874. Indeed, there is no other in the country yet that has any pretensions to being a real zoological garden, except that of Cincinnati, opened May, 1875.
It is "a strictly private enterprise and, judging from the illustrated guide to the gardens, it would seem to be well organized and managed. The alphabetical catalogue of the animals, however, is execrable. Under the letter C you must look both for Buzzard and Jackal, neither of which commences with C. But there you will find the names, both prefixed with the word "Common." San Francisco has Woodward's Garden" a private institution which contains a few seals, cats, dogs, birds, and fishes, but which hardly pretends to be a zoological collection. It is a sort of pleasure-garden with a livestock attachment." Another account says that the collection is "quite extensive, but not very comprehensive," and that the aquarium is "promising." In New York we have a collection of birds and beasts is the Central Park, owing its existence and support principally to menagerie owners, to whom it is a convenient boarding-place for their animals, when not travelling with them about the country.
Our European tourists talk of the wonderful zoo gardens abroad, and marvel at the paucity of like institutions in this country. But we are making quite a normal progress in this direction. In another generation, doubtless, all our large cities will have fine and extensive zoological collections; that is to say, they will increase here faster than they have increased in Europe. It is not quite fifty years since the great London collection was established, and that is the oldest in Europe, except the Jardin des Plantes of Paris, and possibly the Schoubrunn collection. Amsterdam, however, kept lions for public exhibition 400 years ago, and in 1640 it possessed the first rhinoceros ever brought to Europe; but it did not have a zoological garden proper until 1838. The society at that time had 400 members, and quite a large income. In 1863 it had 3600 members, and an annual income of about 150,000 florins. The membership fee is twenty-five florins a year. It is, in fact, a sort of exclusive club, members being admitted by ballot; and none but members, their friends, and strangers "within the gates" are allowed entrance. All foreigners can enter the magnificent. Zoological Garden of Amsterdam, and enjoy at leisure all it contains, by paying a small entrance fee; but no citizen of the town can have that privilege unless he be a member of the society that owns and controls the property.
Both Antwerp and Brussels have zoological societies, modeled after that of Amsterdam, and both are successful. The populace being excluded from these gardens, they have, no doubt, the air and charm of private grounds to members and their families. Here they promenade or ride in elegant state during all the fine days of the year. The walks and roads, the shrubbery and flower beds, the groves and lawns, the lakes and all the buildings, for the animals are kept in magnificent order, and everything is arranged to charm the senses. One of the entrances to the Amsterdam garden is flanked by grand trees, and under them on both sides of the road for a long distance are perches on which sit the most lovely birds of the, parrot, or more correctly the psittacidae family. The soft shadows of the grove, the dark green of foliage and lawn, are most agreeably relieved by the brilliant plumage of cockatoos, parrots, paroquets, and macaws.
The Zoological Garden of Brussels covers about thirty acres, besides a large lake, lent by the government until A.D. 1922. The government also requires all Belgian shipmasters to bring from all parts of the world whatever 'beast or bird is donated to the garden. This secures great numbers of specimens both from strangers and travelling Belgians. The Zoological Garden of Breslau comprises about forty acres, thirty of which were given by the city; that of Dresden is liberally supported by the King of Saxony. Hanover leases grounds to a zoo society at the rate of one thaler for fifty years.
The Garden of Acclimatation, in the Bois de Boulogne, at Paris, received its extensive grounds—over forty-nine acres—from the government, and the institution was inaugurated in 1860 by Napoleon III in person. The price of admission is one franc; Sundays and fête days fifty centimes (ten cents). It suffered terribly during the siege of Paris in the late war, many valuable animals being sacrificed for food. Among these were the famous Castor and Pollux, two trained elephants that used to carry visitors on their backs at five cents a trip. These elephants have been replaced by two others presented by the King of Italy, which the people have christened Romeo and Juliet. These are also trained, and perform the same services. It might be thought strange that during the siege such valuable animals as elephants should be killed for food. It was because, in the first place, they consumed great quantities of the food that every day became more and more precious, and then because they were large, and afforded much meat for the people.
The Jardin d'Acclimatation is one of the most interesting, instructive, and delightful places on earth. The object of its foundation was "to introduce into France under the direction of the Society of Acclimatation every species of animal or vegetable useful or agreeable, domestic or wild, multiply them, and make them known to the public." One of the services it has rendered the people has been to take all the available varieties of the grape—about 2000 of them—cultivate them carefully, compare them, and eliminate the duplicates. The list was already reduced to less than 1500 when the catalogue was revised by M. Riviere in 1874.
|Plan of Philadelphia Zoological Garden|
The study of the society to meet the wants of foreign plants and animals appears to have been grandly successful. In one part there is an artificial mountain with rocky and steep sides, and chasing each other over it you may see the chamois of the Alps and Pyrenees, the antelope of the Rocky Mountains, the heavy-horned moufflons or wild sheep of Sardinia, Corsica, Algeria, all apparently quite happy in the delusion that they are in their native haunts. The Grande Sere, or winter greenhouse for plants that cannot endure a lower temperature than 28.4° Fahrenheit (-2° Centigrade), "is a veritable corner of paradise."
The culture of the silk-worm of every country is another service of this society. Our native species (Bombyx cecropia) is among the number. There seems no end to the wonders and charms of the Jardin d'Acclimatation of Paris. From April to October a band of forty musicians, under M. Mayeur of the opera, discourses excellent music every Thursday and Sunday from three to five o'clock P. M. The organization of the society is upon the same general plan of all European zoological societies: members pay so much yearly, and in retnrn receive certain privileges. Among those accorded to the members of the Acclimatation Society are a free pass to the garden, and passes at reduced rates for friends (five francs a year); ten per cent discount on all plants, eggs, animals, etc., bought of the society; the monthly bulletin of the society recording all experiments in acclimating in different parts of the world; and the right to assist at the social reunions of the society.
All the European zoological societies appear to be prospering, unless that of St. Petersburg may be excepted which must, of course, be maintained at great expense, on account of the rigors of the Russian climate. Schonbrunn, Frankfort-on-the-Main, Breslau, Dresden, all have fine zoological gardens, and Naples boasts the noblest aquarium in existence. It is maintained by the government as an educational enterprise, and it is patronized by several Europeans states, which send a quota of students there annually, it being the highest school of ichthyology in the world. The Paris Garden of Acclimation has also a magnificent aquarium; and the Amsterdam Zoological Society has a library of natural history richer, it is said, than all the British Museum contains on that subject.
|Monkey House from Beaver Pond|
But when we consider government institutions for popular culture, we must give China the palm; for if the records are to be credited, the zoo garden near Pekin was established fully three thousand years ago, by the reigning emperor, who gave it the quaint and appropriate title, "The Park of Intelligence." It has an extensive aquarium also, and all was freely thrown open by the founder, and to this day the Chinese government has kept it up for the benefit of the people.
The splendid Zoological Garden at Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, was opened to the public in July, 1874, yet it has the air and general appearance of famous long-established like institutions in Europe. Its collection of animals is already very extensive, lacking hardly anything of grand importance to the mass of patrons, unless we might mention the hippopotamus. At the last annual meeting the superintendent reported 434 mammals, 453 birds, 58 batrachians, and 63 reptiles; and every visitor can testify to the exceedingly fine condition of most of the animals. The seals and sea-lions disport themselves in the water or sun themselves upon their island structures, sleek, fat, and apparently as happy as seals can be. One of them manifested his vigor not long since by climbing over the railing around his pond—four feet high, I should say—and taking a promenade over to a neighboring seal pond, whose enclosure he also scaled. I envy the visitors present at the moment. It would certainly be interesting to know how a seal could climb a fence. I was told of this feat by the superintendent himself—a gentleman of distinguished manners, by-the-way, and a scientist of note.
The collection of seals in this garden is more extensive, I think, than that of any other—than that of the London Zoo, certainly—and seals are very expensive luxuries. The superintendent of the London Zoo says that "fourteen hundred-weight of fish per annum is no more than is absolutely necessary to keep a seal in condition." Of course seals are accustomed to eating their food alive, and so difficult is the task of teaching them to eat dead fish that thirteen out of fifteen seals received at the Philadelphia garden died under the discipline. The general mortality among the seals, indeed, appears to be greater than anywhere else in the garden. One died in 1876 from peritonitis, and another under very distressing circumstances; this was a young female who "had the habit of generally staying in the water at night. During a very cold night, early in the winter, she lost the air-hole she had kept open to breathe through, and not having strength to break the ice which formed over her, she was found in the morning drowned."
Among the rare animals may be mentioned two black leopards, a splendid rhinoceros weighing over three tons, three fine giraffes, and a large number of kangaroos. The kangaroos appear in most vigorous condition, and almost any time the visitor may see the little ones protruding from the maternal poach—the distinctive characteristic of the marsupial family. There are, however, some fish that have a pouch for their young. The hippocampus, or sea-horse, is an example. No one, it seems, has ever witnessed the birth of the kangaroo; but it is certain that when first found in the pouch it is not much more than an inch in length, and looks exceedingly like the common garden "grub" worm. Structurally, indeed, the kangaroo is the most wonderful of animals.
The collection of camels, deer, buffalos, and zebus is very large. The black zebu (sacred bull of India) is a splendid animal, presented to the society by the Commissioners of Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Its color is very rare. Besides this one, there is another bull, four cows, and a little calf born in the garden. It is said that they can be easily acclimated here. If so, there may come to be a "rage" for zebus, and the milk of the sacred cow may yet be considered indispensable to all first-class hotels and restaurants! It is very rich and good, as the writer can personally testify, having once tasted it in the Amsterdam garden. These animals have commenced to breed in the garden at Philadelphia, and of course the extra stock will be sold. Indeed, there is no better testimony to the wise management of the garden than the increasing number of rare animals that breed there. Lions, leopards, prairie wolves, Bingos, Java porcupines, zebus, camels, kangaroos, monkeys, brown coatis, beavers, Angora, goats, llamas, paroquets, golden pheasants, are given in the superintendent's report. Some of these, as is well known, very seldom breed in captivity, the monkey especially, and its young very rarely survives. The .society has a large collection of monkeys, both of the Old and the New World, and their house, though large, has been found inadequate and ill ventilated, and a new one will probably soon take the place of the old. Perhaps it will be modeled on the plan of that of the London Zoo, which is fitted up in the "style of a conservatory," light, sunny, and aft0rding as much as possible of the monkeys' natural environment. An advantage of this style of house is that you see the animals through glass, and while studying their antics are not suffocated by the terrible odors always found about monkey in-closures, except, perhaps, the summer in-closure in the Jardin des Plantes of Paris. This is made of wire, in the open air, and in size enormous—high and broad enough to enclose several large trees. The Philadelphia Zoo, during the cold weather of December, 1878, lost one of its chimpanzees. Her surviving companion showed every sign of grief at her loss, and would not be comforted. This pair were fine intelligent animals, and their pranks were the delight of visitors. On one occasion when the female was ill, and had to be treated to weak doses of wine negus and other delicacies, the other became furiously jealous.
|Interior of Carnivora House|
Most of the buildings of the Philadelphia garden are very solidly built, and they are generally quaint and picturesque in style: notably the elephant house, which is ninety feet long, and cost about $38,000. The bear pits of heavy masonry are models of their kind. Each compartment is of course furnished with the conventional big tree trunk bristling with broken branches, or with artificial ones, for the bear) climb upon—spectacle of perennial delight to the "average boy." The polar bear pen, containing two fine specimens, is located near the southern entrance. The collection of bears is a very rich one, comprising besides the white polar bears the black, the brown, the cinnamon, the grizzly, the Himalayan, and the Borneo sun bear. The capture of the polar bear without injuring him is a most difficult task, generally accomplished by intrepid whalemen. When caught he is secured in a strong cask, and brought home as a supplementary venture. The female, before giving birth to her cubs, makes herself a retreat, mid generally a very safe one, on the ground under the snow. Sometimes, however, she is betrayed by the breathing hole at the surface of the snow-drift, often some ten feet or more above her warm den.
The lion house, or more properly the carvora building, is the most important structure in the Zoo Garden of Philadelphia. It is elegant and strong. The extremities are flanked by strong towers, and two large wings project in front upon a beautiful terrace, paved, like all the walks of the garden, with asphalt turn cement. In the center is a lovely fountain, and in summer the low wall inclosing the terrace is a mass of green, so completely is it covered by trailing vines. Great urns bearing magnificent century plants are placed at regular intervals upon this wall. The view of the Park and surrounding country from this terrace is magnificent, and in itself worth a visit to the garden. The head gardener of the society must be a man of taste and ability. This is evident everywhere throughout the grounds. The pink crape myrtle, so shy of blossoming in our amateur gardens and conservatories, grows there like a weed, and flowers as luxuriantly ; while the ribbon beds of many-tinted foliage plants and brilliant flowers are dazzling in their beauty, and nowhere show puny or sickly response to the gardener's skill.
The part of Fairmount Park leased to minor importance. No one doubts that there is money enough and enterprise enough to accomplish so desirable an object. The great obstacle is the want of proper and sufficiently extensive grounds. A number of wealthy citizens last winter organized themselves for the purpose of a zoological the Zoo Society has many natural advantages. In the first place it is situated by the Schuylkill, which gives it water and draining advantages ; then it has a small stream of water running through it, and a beautiful little lake with an island where water-birds can rest in safety; but whether the island is natural or not, I am unable to say. Perhaps the island is natural and the lake artificial! One can see bow this might be, though it sounds a little like an Irish bull. And finally the wealth of grand old trees, many of them gigantic in size, and the rolling surface of the land render the whole place naturally picturesque and beautiful.
|Chimpanzees and keeper|
Of course many people will ask why New York, the metropolis of the Western world, should not have a zoological collection, and gardens for it, at least equal to any city of and Acclimation Society, and subscribed money enough to carry out their design—some $400,000—but they failed to convince the Board of Commissioners of Central Park that they ought to have the land. Of course the society wished to bold the land on perpetual lease, as the Zoo Society of Philadelphia holds its lands, and as do most if not all kindred societies in Europe.
It seems to be the fate of all zoological societies to suffer disappointments and delays in their early years. That of Philadelphia is an illustration. It was incorporated in 1859 by the thirty-six members composing it; "languished and lay dormant," as Dr. Comae the first president of the society expresses it, until 1872, when nine of the original members had been removed by death. At that time a meeting was called, and eight out of the twenty-seven members responded. From that time the society made steady progress. In June, 1873, the Commissioners of Fairmount Park leased the thirty-three acres of land which the society now occupies. In 1874 there were 507 annual members, paying five dollars upon election and live dollars annually thereafter, ninety-five life members, nine honorary members, and live corresponding members. Honorary members are those who "in consequence of liberality to the society, or who hold a distinguished position in science, are elected by the board." The late Brigham Young was one of the honorary members—doubtless he did the society some service.
The total income of the society for the fiscal year ending March 1, 1874, exclusive of pecuniary donations, was $5070. The expenditures and improvements amounted to less than half that sum. The enterprise, indeed, has "paid" from the beginning. The money donations of last year were mostly from women. Mrs. Barton gave $5000 in cash, besides purchasing the same amount of stock. Miss Ellen Waln gave $100, and an "unknown lady" $500. At this meeting the offer of Mr. Alfred Cope was received. This was to subscribe $25,000 to the stock of the society "upon the conditions that $125,000 be first secured, that no vinous, malt, or spirituous liquors be sold, and that no circus or theatrical performances be allowed in the garden." This offer was subsequently accepted.
The garden had scarcely been enclosed when numerous offers of zoological specimens arrived, and at what was really the first annual report of the Progress of the enterprise there were 131 quadrupeds, 674 birds, and 8 reptiles. The superintendent, Mr. Thompson, meanwhile had been in Australia, where he collected and shipped goodly numbers of the fauna of that country, and at the time of the report he was in India for the same purpose.
Among the contributions mentioned in the second annual report are twenty-eight prairie-dogs. In time these enterprising little creatures burrowed out of their enclosure under a wall fourteen feet deep, and took possession of a tine slope of lawn near the superintendent's office in the old Penn mansion called " Solitude," and they bravely held it until last fall, when the old enclosure was dug out and paved with flags, and now it once more confines them. To catch them the holes were flooded, and the poor little creatures taken as they came up, half drowned. Their colony is one of the most interesting things in the garden. At any time almost you might see dozens of these active little animals popping in and out of their holes, uttering their peculiar cry—something like the half-suppressed bark of the dog—to which probably they-ewe their name. Their increase begins to alarm the society. Something must be done, and it is very difficult to catch them. Some newly forming zoological garden applied to the Fairmount Park institution for prairie-dogs. This was while they held possession of the lawn. The request was most willingly granted, but the catching required four men and about as many (lays, and then only three or four were secured.
There is a popular belief in the West that the burrowing owl, the prairie-dog, and the rattlesnake live together in great harmony: It is probable that the snake "invades the home of the dog for the purpose of feeding upon the young, while the owl, to save itself the trouble of digging its own habitation, takes possession of the deserted burrows which are left in the gradual change of location continually going on among the dogs." Two burrowing owls were once introduced into the enclosure of the dogs at the Philadelphia garden, and the result was a desperate light, in which the owls were finally killed, their wings having been clipped so that they could not fly away. This hardly shows harmony between the two. The prairie-dog and the porcupine are among the animals that require no water.
Looking over the lists of animals donated to the Fairmount Park Zoo, one is struck by the great numbers of horned owls and horned toads; of the latter fifteen at one time and twenty-six at another. These are presented by boys sometimes, as the word "Master" in the report, or the diminutive of some Christian name, would show. Girls also make donations at times, which shows how important as co-laborers in zoological enterprises the young would naturally be. If the boys of New England knew, for example, that the society's collection of the Mephitis mephitica is reduced to one solitary specimen that might die any day, no doubt they would come to the rescue. This animal must be quite rare since its fine long fur became known to commerce as "Alaska sable."
|Beaver Dam at Zoological Park|
The annual report of the society for 1876 shows a grand advance. The membership had increased to 960, and the average number of visitors daily throughout the year was 1801. The largest number was on Sunday, October 29, when the gate records showed 20,715. The total amount for the year received at the gates was $151,060" 63; average daily receipts, $413 86; largest daily receipts for admissions, $4974 10. Of course this was the Centennial year, when the exposition at Philadelphia brought a greatly increased number of visitors to that city. The next report shows a falling off; but the important thing is that the garden has proved a pecuniary success. The enterprise is evidently managed with signal ability in every department. The superintendent's last report shows the daily cost of maintaining the garden on its present basis to be $80. The expense of meat for feeding the carnivore has been reduced nearly eighty per cent. by the use of horse meat; and though the horses of course are worn-out animals, the effect of feeding meat freshly killed and full of blood is most excellent. By this economy, also, there is much refuse, skin, bone, etc., that can be disposed of by sale. The estimated loss on the value of the animals for the year ending March, 1877, was about four per cent.—" a rate much lower than that of previous years," says the same report, "and believed to be as small a percentage of loss as has ever occurred in a garden of its character."
In answer to certain questions lately put to one of the officers of the society, he said: "The members of the society are all extremely anxious to put the work of the institution as far as possible from the field occupied by the travelling menagerie—a distinction which the American popular mind is slow to recognize. We want to make of it an educator as well as a place of amusement." The following from the last year's report of the secretary, Mr. Samuel, may be quoted as testimony to this fact:
In pursuance of their intention to make the society an auxiliary in the educational system of our community, the directors have initiated a series of popular lectures on zoological subjects. Three of them have been delivered during the last winter, viz.: by Professor B. Waterhouse Hawkins, on Cats by Professor E. D. Cope, on Special Characters of American Life and by Professor Joseph Leidy, on 'Protozoa.' It is hoped that the efforts of the directors in this respect will awaken all increased and wider interest in scientific research and natural objects."
|Zebu, or Sacred Bull of India|
A good zoological garden is not only a very important succursal to all the schools in the vicinity, but it is a grand medium of education to all the people, even to the mere gazers. People go to see—merely to see—and in the course of every visit some question is certain to arise, discussion to ensue, followed by a consultation of the guidebook. And that of the Philadelphia society, it may be said in passing, is a model in all respects. It is superior even to the fine guide-book of the London society, because it contains—expressed in a polite and scholarly manner—a very valuable "introduction” addressed to the "large class of visitors who desire to end in a zoological collection means of instruction as well as of amusement." An admirable synopsis of the whole subject of zoological classification is contained in this introduction.
An amusing incident occurred the other day in the garden, which will illustrate one occasion of an appeal to the guide-book. A gentleman standing before the eagle cage turned to his companion—a boy of ten, perhaps—and said, designating a particular specimen: "My son, look at that splendid bird; that is the American eagle." The boy looked reverently at the bird, until a wicked by-stander exclaimed: "American eagle, Sir! Why, that's the carrion buzzard." The instructor of youth looked terribly embarrassed, and, pitying his confusion, I ventured to remark that I thought the mistake very natural—that I believed both eagle and buzzard belonged to the same family. Here a discussion commenced, both the gentleman and an elderly lady who had come up joining issue against my statement. If I had said "class," or "division," I should have been disputed just the same, all these words meaning vaguely "kind," and nothing definite at all, with these good people. However, they all agreed to defend the "bird of freedom," and soon a guide-book, which the lady happened to have was appealed to. This did not settle the matter satisfactory to all—buzzard, hawk, eagle, and owl seemed to be mixed up a little, and it required more time than could be spent at that hour and place to find out that the confusion came simply from the popular names of the birds, and nothing else. However, as the lady read, our discussion was wholly lost sight of in the description of the eagle, quoted from Coues's Key to North American Birds. It was as follows: "North America, common; piscivorous; a piratical parasite of the osprey; otherwise notorious as the emblem of the republic." With this the group broke up, each one, perhaps, reflecting whether it were well to dissipate all of our illusions.
The visitor familiar with the Garden of Acclimation of Paris and the great Loudon Zoo misses one spectacle, quaint and foreign, in the Philadelphia garden; this is elephants and camels bearing groups of happy children about in state. One of my pleasantest souvenirs of London is that of the great Indian elephant standing by the high platform in the Zoological Garden while men, women, and eager children climbed into the howdah—a genuine Indian howdah, I was told. It was curiously made, canopied, decked with gaudy trappings, and had a sufficiently quaint and foreign air. The great animal was very knowing and docile, and seemed to enjoy the exercise. On returning to discharge his passengers at the platform, directly opposite which was a stand for beer, cakes, etc.; someone, grateful perhaps for a real howdah experience, was very sure to "treat the elephant." The treat generally consisted of a bottle of ale, which the animal would take very gently and adroitly in his proboscis, raise his head, insert the bottle neck downward far back in his cavernous mouth, always flinging it on the ground as soon as drained. Crowds were always present idly admiring the feats of this trained elephant or waiting a turn in the howdah.
The Jardin d' Acclimation has a pleasant gymnasium, fitted with bars, swings, tight ropes, trapezes, etc., abandoned to the free use of the children while waiting for their rides. Two elephants, Romeo and Juliet, were, and no doubt still are, in this service; also camels, horses, asses, zebras, and even an ostrich, which drew a little carriage, to the endless delight of the youngsters. The zebra, by-the-way, which has, always been regarded as untamable, has been perfectly tamed by the skill of the Acclimation Society, and, broken to the harness, it is utilized in the work of the grounds. The price of a "promenade" on the zebra, elephant, or ass is five cents; on the camel, horse, or in the ostrich carriage it is tell cents. The use of these animals in this way not only gives them exercise and so keeps them in more vigorous condition, but proves a source of considerable revenue to the garden. Another source of revenue to European zoo gardens is milk freshly drawn from the udders of various cows kept for that purpose. The Garden of Acclimation sends milk of cows and goats, sealed in cups with the seal of the society, so that there can be no question of its purity, into the city of Paris, where it is in great demand for infants and invalids. Some days there are as many as 600 cups of milk sold on the grounds "warm and foaming" from the udder of the cow.
On the occasion of a late visit to the Philadelphia Zoo, the first object that I saw on passing through the southern gate was four elephants chained by the foot to a stake in the ground. One of them was of the African species, with huge ears the size of an umbrella flapping upon his shoulders. His stake was near a little hillock, and he was engaged in tm exercise not unlike sliding down bill. Going up the bill, he would turn, lie down, and allow himself to slip down the incline as far as practicable. Then he would get up and repeat the operation, much to the detriment of the hillock, which was sadly worn by the process. All these elephants were uneasy, and so evidently irritable that their proximity created a sense of fear. One could not but regret that they were not trained to useful work like their relatives abroad. Mentioning this subject to the superintendent, he said that the training of the elephant was a very brutal operation, and much to be dreaded on account of the amount of pain necessary to overcome the natural obstinacy of the animal; that one of the elephants of the garden had been trained, but that her temper is bad, and he did not dare trust her.
Perhaps some future Rarey may show us how to subdue the elephant by a process as simple as that of a strap on the foot passing limier the surcingle or girth. Doubtless his Lands will ache to get hold of Empress and Dom Pedro, the two little elephants of the collection, and the result will be two docile brutes, two howdahs, bespangled, befringed, and glistening like the sun, bearing groups of joyous children all day, at ten cents a trip, from the elephant house up by the seal ponds, the monkey house, the prairie-dogs' field, to the old Penn mansion, for a call upon the courteous gentleman in charge. Perhaps he might object to being visited all day long in such state; but certainly he would like to see the children happy, and possibly he may understand what such a thing as an elephant ride means to the ordinary child.
From The Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, 1879.