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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/148

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138
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

quite young, if caught napping in the paddock, the facility with which he, as it were, rolled on to his feet and darted off was wonderful."

The writer can fully confirm all the praise Professor Ewart lavishes on his pets; in truth, Romulus has been well described as a "bonnie colt with rare quality of bone. . . and with the dainty step and the dignity of the zebra." Remus, the offspring of the Irish mare, has been from the first more friendly than his half-brother; he objected less to the process of weaning, and, if he survives, promises to be the handsomest and fleetest of the existing hybrids.

On the whole, the hybrids are unusually hardy; only two have been lost—one, a twin, which died almost as soon as it was born, and another which lived some three months and then succumbed. It is only fair to say that the dam of the latter, who was only three years old when the hybrid was born, had been much weakened by attacks of the strougylus worm, and that she was the victim of close inbreeding. Both the zebras and the hybrids which have been under observation at Penycuik show a remarkable capacity for recovering from wounds. Accidental injuries heal with great rapidity. On one occasion the surviving twin was discovered with a flap of skin some five inches long hanging down over the front of the left fetlock. The skin was stitched into its place again, during which operation the little hybrid fought desperately and cried piteously; but it soon recovered, the wound healed, and now scarcely a scar remains. There was no lameness and no swelling either at the fetlock or above the knee. About a year ago four hybrid colts and three ordinary foals were attacked by that scourge of the stable, the strongylus worm. One of the latter died and another was reduced almost to a skeleton; the hybrids, though obviously affected, suffered much less than the others and soon recovered. It is further noticeable that the hybrids suffer less from colds and other slight ailments than the mares and horses among which they live.

There is no doubt that it is a comparatively easy matter to breed these hybrids, and that they are not only extremely attractive animals to the eye, but hardy and vigorous, possessed of great staying powers, and promising to be capable of severe work.

From what we have said, it is evident that the Penycuik experiments are of the highest interest, both practical and theoretical, and the public spirit and self-devotion shown by the Edinburgh professor in carrying them out can not be too widely recognized.