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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/803

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ZOÖLOGICAL GARDENS.

lessly arranged and heterogeneously selected collection of animals, the throngs that stream through the garden grounds will resort there as curiosity-seekers, and will lose sight of the idea that they are in a place and enjoying an atmosphere of culture, refinement, and education. History goes to show that the superb zoological gardens now maintained in London were first opened in 1828, since which time, down to 1887, twenty-four million five hundred and seventy-two thousand four hundred and five visitors were entered upon the register-books of the management. An instant's reflection will be sufficient to convince any friend of education of the benefits that humanity has derived hence, and of the refining influences which have through this center alone been brought into play.

Extensive zoölogical gardens, in addition, open to the masses a long chapter on the life-histories of the animals of their own country, as well as those of foreign lands. Then by the proper methods it becomes easy to bring the visitor face to face with other questions intimately associated with the animals themselves: I refer to their geographical ranges; the physical aspect of the countries they inhabit; and, finally, through the library and lecture system, something about their natural history and structure.

People are by such means enabled to supplement their readings and studies by having the very objects brought before them. At a glance, the striking differences between the Asiatic and African elephants are appreciated through the eye. One soon becomes familiar with the various forms of our American deer, and has a better realizing sense of the fact that the elk resort to the mountain fastnesses as their normal haunts, while our antelope rarely quit the plains. From school-days up, the American youth, by such means, gains a knowledge of the forms of the magnificent representatives of the various faunæ of his land, in comparison with which the illustrations in the text-book, although not to be altogether despised, are inadequate.

Here the sculptor, artist, and engraver can, at their leisure, study the noblest of animal forms under the most advantageous of circumstances. Leopards and pumas may be caught in the very act of a high-noon siesta, or perchance in some short and fiery quarrel, showing all the lineaments of anger characteristic of their race when aroused. Ornithologists may catch for their folios the transitory tints of the glowing plumages of trogons and toucans as they disport themselves in their large, airy cages, in a manner to be achieved under no other conditions. Then, by the aid of camera, brush, and pencil, tints and forms are brought to the eye and hand of the sculptor and engraver, which in time take on material shape in bronze and stone, and the ideas pass into art and design, and thus culture is the gainer in the end.