The Tree Kangaroo and Black Leopard
The ordinary mode in which the Kangaroos make their way on the
ground, as well as by flight from enemies, is by a series of bounds,
often of prodigious extent. They spring from their hind limbs alone,
using neither the tail nor the fore limbs. In feeding, they assume a
crouching, hare-like position, resting on the fore paws as well as on
the hinder extremities, while they browse on the herbage. In this
attitude they hop gently along, the tail being pressed to the ground.
On the least alarm they rise on the hind limbs, and bound to a
distance with great rapidity. Sometimes, when excited, the old male
of the great kangaroo stands on tiptoe and on his tail, and is then
of prodigious height. It readily takes to the water, and swims well,
often resorting to this mode of escape from its enemies, among which
is the dingo, or wild dog of Australia.
Man is, however, the most unrelenting foe of this inoffensive
animal. It is a native of New Holland and Van Diemen's Land, and
was first discovered by the celebrated navigator Captain Cook, in
1770, while stationed on the coast of New South Wales. In Van
Diemen's Land the great kangaroo is regularly hunted with
fox-hounds, as the deer or fox in England.
The Tree Kangaroo, in general appearance, much resembles the
common kangaroo, having many of that animal's peculiarities. It
seems to have the power of moving very quickly on a tree; sometimes
holding tight with its fore feet, and bringing its hind feet up
together with a jump; at other times climbing ordinarily.
In the island of Java a black variety of the Leopard is not
uncommon, and such are occasionally seen in our menageries; they are
deeper than the general tint, and the spots show in certain lights
only. Nothing can exceed the grace and agility of the leopards; they
bound with astonishing ease, climb trees, and swim, and the
flexibility of the body enables them to creep along the ground with
the cautious silence of a snake on their unsuspecting prey.
In India the leopard is called by the natives the
"tree-tiger," from its generally taking refuge in a tree
when pursued, and also from being often seen among the branches: so
quick and active is the animal in this situation, that it is not easy
to take a fair aim at him. Antelopes, deer, small quadrupeds, and
monkeys are its prey. It seldom attacks a man voluntarily, but, if
provoked, becomes a formidable assailant. It is sometimes taken in
pitfalls and traps. In some old writers there are accounts of the
leopard being taken in trap, by means of a mirror, which, when the
animal jump against it, brings a door down upon him.