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the Regent's Park will follow their keeper up and down, if he has a lump of sugar in his hand, and endeavour to get at it by insinuating their long curling tongue between his fingers. They are fed principally on the best hay, placed in high racks; they like a carrot, and are very fond of onions.
The public are particularly requested not to allow these delicately-feeding creatures to share in the cakes and fruit of their grosser neighbours, for fear of their being injured. They look anxiously, however, at flowers, or anything green that may be observable; and a lady, one day, standing more within the giraffe's reach than she was aware of, was exceedingly surprised to see him stretch out his graceful neck, and help himself to a large rose that was in her bonnet. We have already stated that the one in the Jardin des Plantes was very fond of this flower.
Captain Harris, in his "Wild Sports of South Africa," gives an animated account of hunting these beautiful creatures. He at one time came on a herd of thirty-two, who were quietly browsing in a mimosa grove. After a discharge of his gun, they bounded away in great alarm, clearing the ground by a succession of "frog-like" hops, soon leaving him in the rear. The speed of his horse enabled him to overtake them, as the sand of a small river greatly retarded their mode of progress. After a detail too painful to relate, he killed the stately bull giraffe, the leader of the harmless flock; but not until it had received seventeen discharges of the deadly rifle. "This was not," he says, "a matter of astonishment when I contemplated the massive frame before me, seeming as though it had been cast in a mould of brass; and protected by a hide of an inch and half in thickness, it was no longer matter of astonishment that a bullet discharged from a distance of eighty or ninety yards, should have been attended with little effect upon such amazing strength. The extreme length from the crown of the elegantly moulded head to the hoof of this animal, was eighteen feet; the whole being equally divided into body, legs, and neck. We all feasted heartily upon the flesh, which, although highly scented at this season with the rank mokaala, or kameel-doorn blossoms, was far from despicable. The motion of the giraffe reminded me rather of the pitching of a ship, or the rolling of a rocking-horse, than of anything living; and the remarkable gait is rendered still more automaton-like, by the switching at regular intervals of the long black tail, which is invariably curled above the back, and by the corresponding action of the neck, swinging as it does like a pendulum, and literally imparting to this animal the appearance of a piece of machinery. The senses of sight, smell, and hearing, are acute and delicate. The giraffe is by no means a common animal, even at its head-quarters. While we were encamped on the banks of a small stream, a giraffe was killed by a lion whilst in the act of drinking, at no great distance from our waggons. It was a noisy affair, but an inspection of the scene on which it had occurred proved that the giant strength of the victim had been paralyzed in an instant.
"Authors have asserted that the king of beasts is sometimes carried fifteen or twenty miles, 'riding proudly' on the back of the giraffe; but, notwithstanding the amazing and acknowledged power of this superb animal, 1 greatly question his ability to maintain so long a race under such merciless jockeyship."
Many contradictions in minute points occur in the various descriptions of this animal, but it must be remembered that the same animal is to be seen under different circumstances. Sir Everard Home fancied that the giraffe preferred licking the hand of a lady to that of a man. Mr. Davis tells us he never saw any such exhibition of politeness. In one point all the observers of giraffes in Europe agree—that they never make any noise, and that they think the animal would be useless to man in a domesticated state. M. Acerbi gives the following anecdote on this point: "When at Alexandria, I had one day ordered the two giraffes (male and female) taken at Darfur to be led up and down the square in front of my house; among the crowd collected were some Bedouins of the desert. On inquiring of one of them whether he had ever seen similar animals before,—he replied that he had not; and I then asked him in Arabic, 'Taib di?' 'Do they please you?' To which he rejoined, ' Mustaib,' or, ' I do not like them.'
"Having desired my interpreter to inquire the motives of his disapproval, he answered, 'that it did not carry like a horse, it did not serve for field labours like an ox, did not yield hair like a camel, nor flesh and milk like a goat; and on this account it was not to his liking.'"
Till 1827 the giraffe had not been seen in Europe since the end of the fifteenth century, when the Soldan of Egypt sent one to Lorenzo di Medici. It was very familiar with the inhabitants of Florence, living on the fruits of the country, especially on apples, and stretching up its long neck to the first-floors of the houses to implore a meal. The first giraffe seen in Europe appears to have been at the period of Julius Caesar's dictatorship; the Roman Emperors afterwards exhibited them in the cruel games of the Circus, or in their triumphal processions. Gordian III. had ten living giraffes at one time. This creature may be seen on Boman medals.
The Hottentots hunt the animal principally on