27 FEBRUARY 1904, Page 11


THE accomplished chimpanzee 'Consul' was so valuable to its owners that it was insured for £20,000, and its death at Berlin from bronchitis will cost the insuring companies that amount. This is the largest sum at which an animal of two years old has ever been valued, and the amount was in no sense a fancy price. It cost almost nothing to keep, and its performances often brought in a clear 2200 in a single day. It says much for the value of brains, even in an animal employed only to amuse an interest, for no other creatures have fetched as much whet, actually sold, except a few thoroughbreds which were expected to realise great sums for their owners at the stud. The "boxing kangaroo" rose in value from about £10 to half that number of thousands when he was in the heyday of his popularity at the Westminster Aquarium, though it must be admitted that his performance was not one needing much more than dauntless resolution backed up by a naturally pugnacious temper. The "diving elks" were not put up for sale, but there can be no doubt that they were very valuable animals to their owners.

Apart from their earnings at the stud, there is always a chance of thoroughbreds winning great sums in stakes, though all authority agrees that the racehorse in general, as apart from particular animals, always involves a dead loss to its owner. Isinglass,' who closed his racing career by winning the Ascot Gold Cup in 1895, won in stakes the largest sum ever gained by a single horse. He won eleven great races out of twelve in which he was entered between 1892 and 1895, and the total sum credited to him was £57,185. In two seasons 'Donovan' nearly reached the figures of Isinglass,' for he won 254,935, not including some "seconds." 'Ayrshire' won £36,000; and 'Persimmon' and 'La Facile ' something over £36,000 apiece. Ortrionde,' after proving himself one of the very best horses ever known, must have been considered one of the most valuable also, and as likely to bring in a return for money invested in him. Though lie had begun to show signs of "making a noise "—i.e., being

affected in the wind—the Duke of Westminster sold him for £17,000 to go to America. He was then repurchased and brought back to England, and once more purchased again to be taken across the Atlantic, and across the continent of America to California. Recently Mr. Sievier's 'Sceptre,' which cost 22,000 as a yearling, passed all previous records in being offered at £24,000 in the middle of her racing career, a sum which, if realised, would not have been beyond her possible value at the time. But there is no class of animal of the same species and breed which varies so enormously in price as does the thorough- bred. While fashionable yearlings are being purchased for thousands, and sires, and even mares, of high achievement for the sums named above, young thoroughbred stock of very sound parentage, but not considered quite up to winning form in even modest races, can be bought for a £10 note, and are bad bargains at that. They are too young to use for some time, are not popular for " trap " horses (though some of them make very good ones), have no "manners," and are delicate until they have been gradually inured to rough living. Two years ago a well-known dealer bought a dozen at £10 apiece, and "did his best" by them until they were fit to sell for ordinary use. He estimated that his profit was 16s. on the lot.

Present prices of cattle are purely businesslike. The "shorthorn mania" has gone for ever, and with it the foolishly inflated prices given. Curiously enough, the record price for a bull was for a Hereford, not a shorthorn, the sum being 3,800 guineas for a bull called 'Lord Wilton.' But a shorthorn bull named New Year's Gift,' bred by Lord Lovat, sold for 2,000 guineas from Queen Victoria's farm in 1892, and her late Majesty's Royal Duke '• was withdrawn at £1,500. The record prices for sheep are for two Lincoln rams, each of which was purchased for 1,000 guineas by great firms in Argentina. Judging by the prices asked,"show " dogs command more money than working dogs. But it is difficult to be certain at what figure these highly priced animals really change hands, though £500 may be asked for a prize bulldog or great Dane, while a pair of first-class, highly broken retrievers are sold at Aldridge's for 70 guineas.

In the breeds known as "fancy" animals the prices given are quite beyond anything which the imagination of those not in the inner circle could entertain. There is a breed of rabbits known as the "Belgian hare," which is not a hare at all, but had the good fortune to become popular on both sides of the Atlantic, for the Americans very much resemble their cousins in the Old Country in their taste for hobbies in animal worship, and go rather further. One of these Belgian hares, noted for its "grand hind-legs and fine masculine appear. ance," was sold to go to America for 2100. Very finely bred cats are really beautiful animals, and, in addition, are re- munerative to their possessors. They are highly prolific, and their kittens can generally be sold at good prices, so that a £20 eat is often rather a good bargain, when a dog at the same price would be dear. Puppies have nothing like the chance of surviving to grow out of puppyhood which kittens have of arriving at cat's estate, and the mothers often fall ill or die also. It is probable that a really beautiful tortoiseshell or Angora cat is considerably more profitable to keep than even a Dublin lioness, from the breeder's point of view.

The prices paid for wild animals as such, apart from any accomplishments which they may have acquired, is much less now than formerly, the wild-beast trade being in a state of depression, for no particular reason except that the public prefers the excitement of seeing animals perform tricks in circuses to watching them in more or less natural conditions. Perhaps the cheapest purchase ever made for the " Zoo " was when M. Thibaut procured for the Society its first four giraffes for £700. In 1867 one of these, with a young one, perished in a fire, and the Sun Insurance Office paid £54.-5 in compensation for their loss. Most animals bought for zoological gardens are purchased very young, which greatly reduces their cost. But the young hippopotamus now in the Regent's Park Gardens cost £500 when quite an infant. ' Jumbo ' when he was the finest elephant in Europe was sold for just 21,000, which is exactly two-thirds of the sum offered, and refused by the wish

of Queen Victoria, for her late Majesty's splendid shorthorn bull Royal Duke.'

It would be interesting to know what the value of an okapi, delivered in good condition in England, would be. It would probably depend in a great measure upon whether the creatures can stand our climate, as giraffes can, or whether they are delicate and unable to live outside the region of hot forest, which the first discoverers inclined to think is their haunt. Even if they are not entirely forest dwellers, it is possible that they might not live in England. The greater koodoo, the finest of all African antelopes, cannot, although nearly every other species from the same region can be kept here with ordinary care. But omitting this element of speculation, it is probable that if an okapi lived for two years, and were exhibited, it would bring its owner a very fair profit upon an outlay of 23,000. The popular excitement on the subject of 'Jumbo' increased the receipts of the Zoological Society by about half that amount in a very short space of time. Now that the public is so widely interested in natural history, and especially in the natural history of mammals, a new and striking creature like the okapi would attract tens of thousands to see it.