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THE BEARDED GRIFFIN.

If to these two kinds of Menageries we add that which has every where and under all circumstances accompanied the first dawn of civilization, and which constitutes the distinguishing characteristic of man emerging from a state of barbarism and entering upon a new and social state of existence, the possession of flocks and herds, of animals useful in his domestic economy, serviceable in the chase, and capable of sharing in his daily toils, a tolerable idea may be formed of the collections which were brought together in the earliest ages, and were more or less the subjects of study to a race of men who were careless of every thing that had no immediate bearing upon their feelings, their passions, or their interests.

In a wild state, however, they subsist themselves principally by preying upon the inferior animals, feeding with nearly equal relish upon the warm and palpitating fibres of a fresh and almost living victim, and upon the mangled carcass which taints the air with its unsavoury exhalations. Their habitation is in the depths[85] of the forest, where the larger species form themselves dens in the close and thick underwood, while the smaller burrow in the earth for shelter. Their lengthened muzzle and the great extent to which all the cavities connected with the nose are dilated, are admirably fitted for giving to the organ of smell the fullest developement of which it is capable. It is the perfection of this organ, combined with the general lightness and muscularity of their frame and the firm agility of their elongated limbs, which renders many of the species such excellent hunters, by enabling them to scent their prey at an immense and sometimes almost incredible distance, and to run it down in the chase with indefatigable swiftness and unrelaxing pertinacity.

The Blue and Yellow Macaw is one of the finest of the group. The whole of its upper surface is covered with plumage of the most beautiful azure; the feathers of the under parts on the contrary are of a brilliant yellow. The naked part of the cheeks, which are white slightly tinged with flesh colour, is ornamented with three lines of minute blackish feathers; and the throat is surrounded by a broad collar of greenish black. The forehead is yellowish green.

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Of all the animals with tigrine skins, says Buffon, the male Ocelot has unquestionably the most beautiful and at the same time the most elegantly variegated robe; that of the Leopard himself does not approach it in liveliness of colour or regularity of design. That this estimate is by no means exaggerated will readily be allowed by all who have had an opportunity of seeing this truly beautiful creature, which may unquestionably be regarded as the beau ideal of a cat. Nearly equal in size to the Lynx of Europe, but shorter in its proportions and more graceful in its form, it holds, as it were, a middle station between the Leopard and the domestic cat.[54] Its body, when full grown, is nearly three feet in length, and its tail rather more than one; while its medium height may be reckoned at about eighteen inches. The ground colour of its fur is gray mingled with a slight tinge of fawn; and on this it is elegantly marked with numerous longitudinal bands, the dorsal one being continuous and entirely black, and the lateral, to the number of six or seven on each side, consisting for the most part of a series of elongated spots with black margins, sometimes completely distinct, and sometimes running together. The centre of each of these spots offers a deeper tinge of fawn than the ground colour external to them; and this deeper tinge is also conspicuous on the upper part of the head and neck, and on the outside of the limbs, all of which parts are irregularly marked with full black lines and spots of various sizes. From the top of the head, between the ears, there pass backwards, towards the shoulders, two, or more frequently four, uninterrupted diverging bands, which are full black anteriorly, but generally bifurcate posteriorly and enclose a narrow fawn-coloured space within a black margin; between these there is a single longitudinal somewhat interrupted narrow black line, occupying the centre of the neck above. The ears are short and rounded, and externally margined with black, surrounding a large central whitish spot. The under parts of the body are whitish, spotted with black, and the tail, which is of the same ground colour with the body, is also covered with blackish spots.