Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/506

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

as Milton has it, that the great carnivore of India is hunted. A most remarkable trait of elephant existence, and one which parallels the proverbial "red rag" and bovine fury, is the apparent animosity of the race to white color. Sir Samuel Baker says that both the African elephant and the rhinoceros attack gray or white horses with fury. The explanation of such traits of character probably lies hidden in that philosophy of color in relation to sex and animal development which the reseaches of Darwin and others have so far unraveled.

As a final observation regarding the psychology of the elephant, Mr. Darwin's statements concerning the "weeping" of these animals may be quoted. Remarking that the Indian species is known to weep, Mr. Darwin quotes Sir Emerson Tennent, who says that some "lay motionless on the ground, with no other indication of suffering than the tears which suffused their eyes and flowed incessantly." Another elephant, "when overpowered and made fast," exhibited great grief; "his violence sank to utter prostration, and he lay on the ground, uttering choking cries, with tears trickling down his cheeks." "In the Zo├Âlogical Gardens," says Darwin, "the keeper of the Indian elephants positively asserts that he has several times seen tears rolling down the face of the old female, when distressed by the removal of the young one." Mr. Darwin also makes the interesting observation that, when the Indian elephant "trumpets," the orbicular muscles of the eyes contract, while in the "trumpeting" of the African species these muscles do not act. Hence, as Mr. Darwin believes that in man the violent contraction of the muscles round the eyes is connected with the flow of tears, it would seem by analogy to be a legitimate inference that the Indian elephant has attained a higher stage in the expression of its emotions than its African neighbor.

The social history of the elephants includes several somewhat melancholy incidents connected with the dispatch of these animals, rendered necessary from their dangerous condition. The best known of these incidents is that connected with the death of Chunee, the Exeter Change elephant, reported in the "Times" for March 2, 1826. The account of the death of Chunee is as follows:

The elephant was a male, and had been an inmate of the Exeter Change Menagerie for seventeen years. He was brought from Bombay, where he was caught when quite young, and was supposed to be about five years old when purchased by Mr. Cross; consequently his present age is twenty-two. The effect of his unavoidable seclusion had displayed itself in strong symptoms of irritability during a certain season from the first, and these symptoms had been observed to become stronger during each succeeding year as it advanced toward maturity. The animal was altogether kept at this season very low, and also plentifully physicked, for which latter purpose no less than one hundred-weight of salts was frequently given to him at a time. Notwithstanding these precautions, the animal within the last few days had shown strong proofs of irritability, refusing the caress of his keepers and attempting to strike at them with his trunk on their approaching him, also at times rolling himself about his den and