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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/98

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE SURVIVAL OF INSTINCTS.
By ELIAS LEWIS, Jr.

ANIMAL life has its episodes, and apparently abnormal habits. A gentleman, residing near this city (Brooklyn), had recently a turkey tethered with a cord in a field during the early life of her brood. He had also several other turkeys with which this one had a long time associated, apparently on the most friendly terms, and which, during her temporary confinement, strolled and fed quietly around her. But it happened one day that she became entangled with the cord, so that her feet were drawn together, and, being unable to walk, lay struggling on the ground. While thus helpless her associates attacked her, evidently for the purpose of killing her outright. They made no onset as when fighting, but deliberately and in the coolest manner possible commenced their butchery by picking the head of the unfortunate bird.

So intent were they that they scarcely heeded the approach of our friend, who, from a distance, saw what was going on. Before he reached the spot, the assailants had destroyed one eye and laid bare the skull, inflicting injuries so great upon the creature that she soon died. A similar act was repeated shortly afterward in the same flock, and the phenomenon—certainly a curious one—is, we believe, not unusual.

Observation and inquiry have shown that a like disposition appears not among turkeys only, but in several species of animals, exciting them, when aroused, to attack and worry those of their kind if weak, sick, or disabled. It has been noticed with cattle, swine, dogs, and, as has been suggested by observers, may occur with all domesticated or partly domesticated species in which it had existed in their wild state. We are informed by drovers, of whom we have made careful inquiry, that when herds of cattle are hurriedly driven, and especially when they become excited or alarmed, one having fallen, or showing signs of weakness, is sometimes set upon and gored by its associates.

Two gentlemen, who have been drovers forty years, and during many years were themselves collectors and drivers of herds, assure us that they have often witnessed such attacks, and have interfered to prevent injury. They also state that the habit appears to be more frequent with animals which have run at large without much care or restraint, than with those well domesticated.

Such occurrences, however, are well known among domesticated cattle. A gentleman residing on Long Island had, a few years since, a herd of cattle, one of which was taken suddenly sick, but was turned, as usual, into the field with the others. In a short time he noticed great disturbance among them, and, on hurrying to the spot, found