From the Civets, to which it closely approaches in the number and in some degree also in the form of its teeth, in the asperity of its tongue, and in the semi-retractility of its claws, the group of which the Egyptian Ichneumon forms the type is distinguished by its narrower and more pointed muzzle, by the shortness of its lower lip, and more especially by the absence of the double cavity beneath the tail, which is replaced by a single pouch of considerable size, but destitute of secreting glands. Their hair is long, crisp, brittle, and always more or less variegated in colour, in consequence of each separate hair being marked by alternate rings of different shades.
These animals are by nature sociable, and congregate together in herds, which frequently amount to more than a hundred. The imposing spectacle furnished by such a collection of these immense masses of animated matter may well be imagined. They generally seek the shade of the forest, in which they find additional means of subsistence in the young shoots of the trees, which supply the place of other and more congenial herbs. They frequently issue from it, however, in quest of the latter, and also to indulge in a propensity possessed by them in common with all those animals which like them are furnished with thick and almost naked, or with bristly, skins, that of bathing in the water or wallowing in the mud. It is for this reason that they are usually met with in the neighbourhood of large streams, which their great size and the quantity of fat with which they are commonly loaded enable them to swim with facility. Their trunk is also extremely serviceable in this operation, as it enables them to bury as it were the whole of their body beneath the water, retaining above the surface no more than the extremity of that organ for the admission and expulsion of the air. After having been for some time in the water, it is said that their skin loses the dusky hue by which it is usually distinguished in consequence of the dirt and other matters with which it is incrusted, and assumes a perfect flesh-colour marked with numerous round and blackish spots. This natural colour is, however, lost almost immediately on their reaching the land, when they uniformly scatter themselves all over by means of their trunk with the mud or dust which first falls in their way. So fond are they of this process that they commonly recur to it whenever an opportunity offers. The bathing appears to be absolutely necessary in order to keep their skins to a certain extent supple and flexible; for which purpose their keepers, in captivity, occasionally have recourse to the smearing them with oil as a substitute.
THE GREAT SEA-EAGLE.
Gypaetos barbatus. Storr.
The high degree of domestication to which this latter species has been brought, and the invaluable services which it renders to the Laplander, added to the tranquil content which most of the deer manifest in a state of captivity, afford sufficient proofs that there is nothing in the constitution of the group repugnant to their being tamed and familiarized with man; but from none of the other races have any real or essential advantages been as yet derived. The quiet confidence, mixed with a certain air of cautious timidity, which they exhibit in their half-restricted state, in the park or the chase, where they are kept more for ornament than use, is perfectly indicative of their general character. But the very mildness of their disposition has been turned to their disadvantage, and one of the gentlest of animals, because endowed by nature with a high degree of fleetness, with some sagacity, and with a certain share of timidity, has been marked out by man as the chosen victim of his cruelty, disguised under the captivating name of sport.
The elegant Albino now in the Tower was brought from Bombay by Captain Dalrymple of the Vansittart, and remained for a considerable time at Sand Pit Gate, where it was an especial favourite with his Majesty, as well on account of the gentleness of its disposition, as for its rarity and beauty. It bears its confinement in the Menagerie with perfect resignation, and is remarkable for the mildness and tranquillity of its deportment.