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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/502

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

upon their manufacture of ivory. Probably there is no more sagacious animal than a well-trained elephant, and the development of such high instincts as these animals exhibit may form an additional illustration of the marked influence of association with man in inducing the growth of intelligence and reasoning powers in the animal creation. ~No one may doubt that the dog, for instance, has benefited to a marked degree from such association with human surroundings, and that the comparatively low mental powers of many other animals are susceptible of higher development through domestication is an idea fully supported by all that is known of instances where a wild race, or individual animal of wild habits, has been brought in contact with man. The "learned pigs" and tame hares are cases in point; and the relatively low mental powers of many of the apes may be largely attributed to that want of interest in "poor relations" with which humanity, as a body, views the quadrumanous tribes.

The records of popular natural history teem with examples of the sagacity of elephants, a mental quality which, it may be added, is likely to owe much to the relatively long life and corresponding opportunities of acquiring experience which these animals possess; while it has been also remarked that, as the elephant, unlike the dog, rarely breeds in captivity, and as each individual elephant has to acquire, independently of heredity, its own knowledge of the world and of man, so to speak, these great animals present infinitely more remarkable examples of animal sagacity than the dog. One specially interesting feature of elephant-life consists in the aid given by the domesticated elephant to man in the capture of the wild species. The fact of these animals entering into an offensive and, from its very nature, an intelligent alliance with man, against their own race, may be regarded either as illustrating the desire to benefit the race by conferring upon them the blessings of civilized life and employment, or as exemplifying a process of demoralization and treacherous development which might afford an argument against the universally beneficial effects of domestication of the animal form. Nor is the probem rendered any the less attractive to the metaphysician and moralist, when it is discovered that it is through the caresses and blandishments of the false females that the wild elephants are tempted into the snare: the parallelism between the experiences of lower and higher life being too obvious in this instance to escape remark.

Probably no animal exhibits a greater knowledge or instinctive apprehension of danger than an elephant. Instances are numerous, for example, when an elephant has refused to cross a bridge esteemed safe by his human guides, but which has collapsed with the animal's weight, when, goaded and tortured to proceed, he has advanced in despair, only to find himself immersed in the water below. But cases are also recorded in which the danger experienced by the elephant itself has apparently not rendered it insensible to the safety of its keeper. "The