Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 5 (August 1, 1935)


page 52


Feathers and Fur.

We would hesitate to blame zoo keepers if they regarded their fellows from the viewpoint of fur and feathers rather than spats and top hats. Even a half day's association with our furred and feathered friends in captivity, is prone to produce in the vision of the impressionable visitor a kind of animal astigmatism which until he returns
“Has a defensive look in his eye.”

“Has a defensive look in his eye.”

to normal, causes all men to appear in his sight as lions and rabbits and macaws and eagles. Indeed, in the eyes of most animals, the discerning observer may detect that “divine discontent” supposed to be the doubtful privilege of the human animal alone; so who can blame the zoo stroller who, for the nonce, gets his zoo-logy so tangled up with his biology that the main streets look like “eventide at the jungle water hole”?

The Gay Deceiver.

Even though the raucous cry of the gay macaw sounds like a knife pursuing a pea across a tin plate, it seems to convey an almost human protest against the limitations of feathers.
“Airing his pinions in a manner suggesting an umbrella being opened and shut.”

“Airing his pinions in a manner suggesting an umbrella being opened and shut.”

But here any possible resemblance to man ceases, for, in spite of his carefree garb of screaming scarlet, superlative blue and grandiloquent green, the macaw's eye has the hard defiant gleam of one who distrusts the authenticity of his own existence. In fact,

The macaw
Is a bore,
Though distinctly a beau.
Sartorial splendour—
But, gentleness! No
His manner is raucous,
And, taken “in toto,”
He isn't as nice
As he looks in his photo.

The Pellmellican.

On the other hand, the pelican, in spite of his fuss of feathers and carpet - bag beak, seems to be a chummy kind of bird even if the parts south of his bill are built to the specifications of a goose whose grandmother was a sawn-
“The Mongoose is a Rail Sitter.”

“The Mongoose is a Rail Sitter.”

off ostrich. His eye has a gallant roll and his voice has the cheerily wheezy quality of an ancient sea-dog calling for grog; but, as a drinking partner, the cost of his company might prove prohibitive for, when he said, “Just a mouthful, captain,” one can easily imagine the consequent consternation on the quarter-deck. But he is air-minded, as he proved when we paused at his enclosure, by “wooshing” his wings up and down in a manner suggesting a rusty old umbrella being opened and shut with violence. Naturalists, we believe, refer to “a flock of pigeons,” “a flight of periwinkles,” “a gaggle of geese,” etc., etc., and no doubt they also refer to “a stagger of pelicans.”

When the pelican lunches the sight is remindful of a fish-ladder operating in reverse.

It's amazing when viewing the pelican,
To notice, in passing, how well he can
Dispose of a gurnet—
And barely discern it—
His beak and his manner
Both tell he can.

The Pygmy Pig.

The collared peccary is a kind of pygmy pig with a fancy for porcupine suitings. Although he looks porkine for'rard he looks equine aft, inasmuch as his hind hoppers indicate that he could leave a good deal of the South American scenery in the rear if pursued by the savage peon of the pampas intent on a little “lean and fat” to go with his tortillos or bolas or cupolas—or whatever he eats besides chiles and chutney. If the collared peccary doesn't look particularly contented in captivity he at least is safe, so
“A kind of Pygmy Pig.”

“A kind of Pygmy Pig.”

Collared peccary so fat,
Running round your cage like that,
Do you think, while chewing pollard,
You are safe from getting collared?


The mongoose is a rail-sitter. He is content to wrap himself round a length of timber and take a long view of the end of his nose, the extremity of which is almost as far from his face as his tail. In fact,

page 53
“No wonder he looks hot and glum.”

“No wonder he looks hot and glum.”

The mongoose is small—
A furry brown ball—
Whose coat is quite quaint
And not a bit shoddy.
His colour is “nigger,”
And he would be bigger,
With nose taken off
And spread over his body.

What Polar Bears Bear.

The polar bear, sitting on his concrete ice-berg, looks at us plaintively, and, although the southerly is crisping our whiskers and nipping our ears, he seems to say, “Glory! Ain't it ‘ot?” His bathing pool is still and green with a cold shudder in every drop, but he regards it with distaste and appears to growl, “Pshaw! These tepid baths!” But perhaps if we were tailored like the polar bear we too would complain that the ice cream was luke warm. For

The polar bear who loves to straddle
An ice block for his winter saddle,
Must find our climate irritating,
With southerlies so enervating.
No doubt he envies me and you
Our chilblains and our noses blue.


The raven's heart is as black as his coat. Sin is writ on him from the Satanic squint of his white-rimmed eye
“A strolling haystack covered with tarpaulin.”

“A strolling haystack covered with tarpaulin.”

to the evil quirt of his Mephistophelian tail. His glance is ribald and his friendship is an insult. His rusty black feathers are the vestments of doom.

Oh bird of Satan
Tipped from—well,
A place whose name might rhyme
with “tell,”
You make me feel a snowy saint,
Although, full well, I know I ain't.

Hearts and Bones.

And so we turn from this feathered omen of evil to jovial Jumbo. Mother India's big baby. She is a strolling haystack covered with a tarpaulin, and her ears wave with the rhythm of punkahs in an eastern bungalow. She passes with the ponderous poetry of a giant machine, and a bright eye which peeps out at us from its nest of crinkled rubberoid seems to say, “My heart is the heart of a fawn, but—dignity, brother, dignity!” Her feet spread like dobs of fresh-poured pancake dough, and, from the rear, she resembles a broad-beamed old boatman
“A Bird of Satan.”

“A Bird of Satan.”

with sore feet. The heart of a wood nymph and the body of a pantechnicon!

Jumbo, what a tragedy!
Eyes that say that you should be
Springing like an antelope,
Up and down the mountain's slope!
But, of course, with bulk so brave,
You must be demure and grave.

“Among Those Present.”

There remain the eagles, the owls, the racing bantam with the “Lovelock” legs, Fluffums the furry fowl, who
“The daring young man on the flying trapeze.”

“The daring young man on the flying trapeze.”

“The Bantam with the ‘Lovelock legs’; and ‘Fluffums.’”

“The Bantam with the ‘Lovelock legs’; and ‘Fluffums.’”

looks like an animated powder puff, and the merry monkeys—“the daring young man on the flying trapeze,” who toil not but do a deal of spinning. “Among those present were many other well-known figures.”

George Robey, the famous London comedian, relates in his amusing reminiscences that he smoked his first cigarette when he was 14 and enjoyed it so much that he annexed one of his father's pipes “and had a go at that.” He sums up that experience in two words—“Oh, my!” He left tobacco severely alone after that for a long time. Then he tried again, “and ever since has preferred a pipe to any other way of smoking.” Well, there's nothing like a pipe—unless it's a cigarette, but make sure your tobacco's right. It should be pure, have flavour and aroma, and be as free as possible from nicotine. So those who smoke “toasted” can't go far wrong! For it's wonderfully pure, there's next to no nicotine in it, because it's toasted, consequently harmless. And as for flavour and bouquet where can you find its equal? Five brands only of the genuine toasted: Cut Plug No. 10 (Bullshead), Navy Cut No. 3 (Bulldog), Cavendish, Riverhead Gold and Desert Gold. They vary in strength, but the quality's the same — unapproachable.*