Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/521

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MENTAL CAPACITY OF THE ELEPHANT.

the wonderfully intelligent animals they are. For many generations the horse has been bred for strength, for speed, or for beauty of form, but the breeding of the dog has been based chiefly on his intelligence. With all his advantages, his comprehensive faculties, even in the most exceptional individuals of a whole race, are not to be compared to those of any adult elephant fresh from the jungle.

The extreme difficulty in teaching a dog of mature age even the simplest thing is so well known that it has passed into a proverb: "It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks." In other words, the conditions must be favorable. What is the case with the elephant? The question shall be answered by Sanderson. In his "Wild Beasts of India," he says: "Nor are there any elephants which can not be easily subjugated, whatever their size or age. The largest and oldest elephants are frequently the most easily tamed, as they are less apprehensive than the younger ones."

The most striking feature in the education of an elephant is the suddenness of his transition from a wild and lawless denizen of the forest to the quiet, plodding, good-tempered, and cheerful beast of draught or burden. There takes place in the keddah, or pen of capture, a mighty struggle between the giant strength of the captive and the ingenuity of man, ably seconded by a few powerful tame elephants. When he finds his strength utterly overcome by man's intelligence, he yields to the inevitable, and accepts the situation philosophically. Sanderson once had a narrow escape from death while on the back of a tame elephant inside a keddah attempting to secure a wild female. She fought his elephant long and viciously, with the strength and courage of despair, but she was finally overcome by superior numbers. Although her attack on Sanderson in the keddah was of the most murderous description, he states that her conduct after her defeat was most exemplary, and she never afterward showed any signs of ill-temper.

Mr. Sanderson and an elephant-driver once mounted a full-grown female elephant on the sixth day after her capture, without even the presence of a tame animal. Sir Emerson Tennent records an instance wherein an elephant fed from the hand on the first night of its capture, and in a very few days evinced pleasure at being patted on the head. Such instances as the above can be multiplied indefinitely. To what else shall they be attributed than philosophic reasoning on the part of the elephant? The orang-outang, so often put forward as his intellectual superior, when captured alive at any other period of life than that of helpless infancy, is vicious, aggressive, and intractable for weeks and months, if not during the remainder of its life. Orangs captured when fully adult exhibit the most tiger-like ferocity, and are wholly intractable.

If dogs are naturally superior to elephants in general intellect, it should be as easy to tame and educate newly-caught wild dogs or