P.T. Barnum’s Depiction of Animals

Animals are portrayed as being intelligent and awe-inspiring in The wild beasts, birds, and reptiles of the world: the story of their capture. The leopard is described as beautiful by Bob Marshall who had sharp claws and teeth. He described the animal as being the most cunning in the animal kingdom and a skilled climber that few animals can escape. The strength of the animal and it’s appearance seem to have the only purpose of producing admiration among the hunters. The strength of the animals in this story is significant when compared to human’s feebleness. The strength behind the leopard’s paw would “play mortal havoc with the handsome face and athletic frame of the youth.”(16) Also, the hunter admits that without his gun he would lose terribly against the leopards therefore the strength of the leopards is beneath the strength of the hunter’s weapon. The animals in this story are viewed as commodities to be disposed of and acquired. The leopard killed by Bob Marshall would have made a perfect trophy and a gift if the hunter had been able to carry it back to camp. The death of the leopard did not matter, but only what could be gained by it. The hunting of kangaroos, hippopotamus, tigers and many more only benefit the hunters who capture them to be in a show. Camels are used only to transport animals since humans are too weak to carry the animal for a long distance; they do not seem to have a purpose outside of what they can do for humans. Also, the parents of the animals are viewed as disposable commodities that have to be killed in order for their offspring to be captured and in order for the hunter’s job to be easier. The parents are too violent and cannot be subdued so the hunters go for their young who are weaker. The characteristics of the animals are viewed as simple, therefore the humans can learn them and imitate them, such as the hunter staring down the female leopard and the hunters carrying the young leopards by their necks. Also, the hunters believe that the young leopards can be fed by them just as they would be fed by their parents. Animals, the leopards in particular, as viewed as unimportant except for what they can provide for the hunters.

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