Canis aureus. Linn.
Africa, as we have already observed, is truly the native country of the Lion; and in no part of that vast continent, we may add, does he attain greater size, or exhibit all his characteristic features in fuller and more complete developement, than in the immediate vicinity of the settlements which have been formed in the interior of its southern extremity by the Dutch and English colonists of the Cape. In speaking of the Bengal Lion, we have also pointed out the more striking characteristics by which the Asiatic race is distinguished from that of Southern Africa; consisting principally in the larger size, the more regular and graceful form, the generally darker colour, and the less extensive mane of the African. It remains, however, to be mentioned that, even in this latter race, there are two varieties, which have been long known to the settlers under the names of the Pale and the Black Lion, distinguished, as their appellations imply, by the lighter or darker colour of their coats, and more particularly of their manes. This variation, there can be little doubt, is entirely produced by the different character of the districts which they inhabit, and of the food which they are enabled to procure. The black Lion, as he is termed, is the larger and the more ferocious of the two, more frequently attacking man himself, if less noble prey should fail him; and sometimes measuring the enormous distance of eight feet from the tip of the nose to the origin of the tail, which is generally about half the length of the body. He is, however, of less frequent occurrence than the pale variety.
The Alligators constitute a natural subdivision of the genus, in which the snout is broad, blunt, and less produced than in the true Crocodiles; the fourth tooth on each side of the lower jaw enters a hole in the upper when the mouth is closed; and the toes are only half-webbed. They appear to be exclusively natives of America. The present species is distinguished by its broad and flat snout, with nearly parallel sides, united in front by a curved line; by the peculiar arrangement of its nuchal scales; and by the elevated internal margins of its orbits. Its colour is dark brown above, and somewhat lighter beneath. It is one of the most dreadful scourges of the countries which it inhabits, preying upon all kinds of animals that come within its reach, and sometimes even upon man himself. Our specimen was apparently very young, not measuring more than three feet in length; but during two years that it was kept in the Menagerie it was not observed to have at all increased in size. It was fed once a week upon raw beef.
It was in the commencement of the year 1823, when the General was on service in Bengal, that being out one morning on horseback, armed with a double-barrelled rifle, he was suddenly surprised by a large male Lion, which bounded out upon him from the thick jungle at the distance of only a few yards. He instantly fired, and, the shot taking complete effect, the animal fell dead almost at his feet. No sooner was this formidable foe thus disposed of than a second, equally terrible, made her appearance in the person of the Lioness, whom the General also shot at and wounded so dangerously that she retreated into the thicket. As her following so immediately in the footsteps of her mate afforded strong grounds for suspecting that their den could not be far distant, he determined upon pursuing the adventure to the end, and traced her to her retreat, where he completed the work of her destruction, by again discharging the contents of one of the barrels of his rifle, which he had reloaded for the purpose. In the den were found a beautiful pair of cubs, male and female, supposed to be then not more than three days old. These the General brought away with him, and succeeded by the assistance of a goat, who was prevailed upon to act in the capacity of foster-mother to the royal pair, in rearing them until they attained sufficient age and strength to enable them to bear the voyage to England. On their arrival in this country, in September, 1823, he presented them to his Majesty, who commanded them to be placed in the Tower. The male of this pair is the subject of the present, the female that of the succeeding article.