A no less striking than apposite instance of the close affinity between the species, and of the difficulty of distinguishing them from each other, especially in their young state, is furnished by the animals whose figures stand at the head of the present article. They are all three very evidently young individuals, and have not yet reached the period when it would be safe to pronounce with positiveness upon the species, or, were we to adopt the Cuvierian system in its full extent, upon the genera even, to which they respectively belong.
Of this very remarkable animal, the only individual of the species ever seen in Europe, and in fact the only one that has yet fallen under the notice of zoologists, so complete an account has been published by Dr. Horsfield, in the second volume of the Zoological Journal, that it would be presumptuous in us to attempt to add any thing to the masterly details which are there furnished both of its organization and habits. We shall therefore in the present instance, and with the less reluctance as the animal is no longer living for further reference, content ourselves with abstracting from that paper, as nearly as possible in the words of its author, the more interesting and prominent features of the history which is there given of the Bornean Bear; which, in conjunction with another closely related species, the Ursus Malayanus, Dr. Horsfield has separated from the other bears under the sub-generic title of Helarctos.
Happily for England this formidable beast has long been extirpated from its woods; but the comparative extent of his domain has been thereby but little reduced. It may be roughly stated as comprehending the whole northern hemisphere, of which only very small portions are exempted from his ravages. He is easily tamed when young, and may even (according to M. F. Cuvier, who has published a history of a domesticated individual bordering in many particulars very closely on the marvellous, but of the truth of which the well known character of that scientific naturalist is a sufficient guarantee) be rendered susceptible of the highest degree of attachment to his master, whom he will remember after prolonged and repeated absence, and caress with all the familiar fondness of a dog. Such traits as this are, however, to say the least, very uncommon; and he is, even in captivity, generally speaking, ill tempered and morose. The old male, the father of the litter now in the Tower, was extremely savage; the female, on the contrary, is very tame, and, which is more remarkable, continued so even during the period of suckling her young, which were five in number. Neither before, at, nor after this period did her temper undergo any change: she suffered her keepers to handle her cubs, of which she was excessively fond, and even to remove them from the den, without evincing the smallest symptom either of anger or alarm.
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.
Almost in the same degree that the Lion has been exalted and magnified, at the expense of his fellow brutes, has the Tiger been degraded and depressed below his just and natural level. While the one has been held up to admiration, as the type and standard of heroic perfection, the other has, with equal capriciousness of judgment and disregard of the close and intimate relationship subsisting between them, been looked upon by mankind in general with those feelings of unmingled horror and detestation which his character for untameable ferocity and insatiable thirst of blood was so well calculated to inspire. It requires, however, but little consideration to teach us that the broad distinction, which has thus been drawn, cannot by possibility exist; and the recorded observations of naturalists and travellers, both at home and abroad, will be found amply sufficient to prove that the difference in their characters and habits, on which so much stress has been laid, is in reality as slight and unessential as that which exists in their corporeal structure.