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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 83.djvu/438

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MY home at the present time is within ten minutes' walk of the National Zoological Park at Washington, and, as a matter of fact, when my study window is open, and outside conditions are favorable, the howling of the coyotes and wolves, the barking of the seals, and the calls of the big birds of prey are, each and all, heard with delightful distinctness.

Zoological gardens and parks have interested me most keenly as far back as I can remember, and in years gone by I have published, in one place or another, a number of articles about them, in which I have attempted to point out what extremely valuable institutions they are to any civilized community of people.

Within the past few weeks I have made quite a number of photographs in the National "Zoo," including some of the principal buildings, the animals and views. Some of these were taken for a definite purpose, to which they have already been applied. Others were taken to help illustrate a book I am writing on animals; while a few have a special interest for me on other accounts, and some of these I am using to illustrate the present article, as, for example, the superb specimen of the Kadiak bear shown in Fig. 1. This is the largest carnivore existing on this planet to-day, and is, as in the case of so many of our famous mammals, gradually, but very surely, being exterminated.

There are a number of different species of bears in the collection of the National Zoological Park, as for example the brown bear of Europe, the black bear, grizzly, polar bears and others. They are placed upon exhibition by being confined in a series of cages, here shown in Fig. 1, with "dens" built in solid masonry and stone-work at their farther ends. Although well and regularly fed, and the general surroundings very beautiful, these poor fellows are by no means happy or contented. Bears are extremely active in nature, and delight in climbing trees and in cutting up all sorts of antics in the forests. These cages are doubtless the best that the limited funds at the disposal of the management will purchase; but any one who knows anything of a bear's needs, knows full well that it is a cruelty to keep them in such quarters as those in which they are now confined. These cages should be five or six times their present size, and running water should pass through them. There should be areas enclosed of soft ground for the bears to scratch and roll upon; and, above all, a number of trees, as large as possible, should be enclosed, in that they could climb to their heart's content. It is a truly pitiable sight to see these poor creatures try to "kill time" in