Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/522

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

wolves of mature age as newly-caught elephants. But, so far from this being the case, it is safe to assert that it would be impossible to train the most intelligent company of pointers, setters, or collies ever got together to perform the feats accomplished with such promptness and accuracy by all regularly trained circus-elephants.

The successful training of all elephants up to the required working point is so fully conceded in India that the market value of an animal depends wholly upon his age, sex, build, and the presence or absence of good tusks. The animal's education is either sufficient for the buyer, or, if not, he knows it can be made so.

The time required for the training of newly-captured elephants, and fitting them for all kinds of work, varies from four to six months, although instances are known wherein some have been worked in harness two months after capture.

The fourth quality, which serves as a key to the mental capacity and mental processes of an animal, is the degree of its

 

Promptness and Accuracy in the Execution of Man's Orders.

The most impressive feature of a performance of elephants in the circus-ring is the fact that every command uttered is obeyed with true military promptness and freedom from hesitation, and so accurately that an entire performance is often conducted and concluded without the repetition of a single command. One by one the orders are executed with the most human-like precision and steadiness, amounting sometimes to actual nonchalance. Human beings of the highest type could scarcely do better. To some savage races—for example, the native Australians, the veddahs of Ceylon, or the jackoons of the Malay Peninsula—I believe such a performance would be impossible, even under training. I do not believe their minds act with sufficient rapidity and accuracy to enable a company of them to go through with such a wholly artificial performance as successfully as the elephant's.

The thoughtful observer does not need to be told that the brain of the ponderous quadruped acts, as far as it goes, with the same lightning rapidity and clearness as that of the most intelligent man—this, too, be it remembered, in a performance wholly artificial and acquired, in which the animal depends solely upon the words of the trainer. I particularly noted the fact that the performance of Barnum's elephants was conducted without the use of any signs whatever.

In the performance of Bartholomew's horses, of which I once kept a record in detail, even the most accomplished members of his stud often had to be commanded again and again before they would obey. A command was often repeated for the sixth time before the desired result was obtained. I noted particularly that not one of his horses, which are perhaps the most fully trained of any living, was an exception to this rule, or performed his tasks with the prompt obedience and self-confidence so noticeable in every one of the sixteen elephants. The horses