Wild Horses at the National Zoo

The so-called wild mustangs who roam the American West are actually descended from domestic animals, and are thus technically feral mustangs. In fact, most of the world’s free-ranging horses are feral, though there is one famous exception. The horses who roam the Mongolian highlands, known to science and history as Przewalski horses, have never consented to Read More …

Basket of Adorables

One of the benefits of studying the history of animals is that you occasionally come across images like this one in the archives. Vermont studio H.C. White and Co. photographed this basket of puppies for the stereoscope in 1906, and the stereo card is now housed at the Library of Congress. In fact, the Library contains Read More …

Panikpah the Survivor

Dogs played a critically important role in late-nineteenth-century polar exploration, but they often paid a steep price for their participation. During one especially treacherous expedition across the “Great Ice” of northern Greenland in 1895, the famed explorer Robert Peary lost 41 out of the 42 dogs he brought with him. The lone survivor, a dog named Panikpah, Read More …

Porcineograph, 1875

Sometimes you discover treasures in the archives on your own, and sometimes it’s through word of mouth. I first learned about this map, titled “Porcineograph (1875),” from Slate Vault, one of my favorite historical resources on the web. The map was commissioned by William Emerson Baker to help promote his belief in hygienic farming. It’s a Read More …

Window to the Soul

In the early nineteenth century, naturalists spent considerable time drawing animal eyes in exquisite detail. My favorite example is featured below (and sampled above). Titian Ramsay Peale drew these “Indian dogs” in the spring of 1820, and his illustration is housed at the American Philosophical Society (link here). If you’d like to learn more about the artist, you’ll be happy to Read More …

Native American dog, 1585

In  1585, approximately 600 prospective colonists left England en route for the New World. Though stormy seas forced them into a brief layover on Puerto Rico, the colonists eventually arrived in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and started building a fort on Roanoke Island. Within five years, the colony and all of its colonists had vanished. The Read More …

Extreme Varieties

Now that Feral Animals in the American South has finally gone to press, I thought I’d make good on my promise to share goodies from the cutting-room floor, and to promote the book with shameless abandon. This magnificent photograph first appeared in Charles Henry Lane’s Dogs Shows and Doggy People (London: Hutchinson & Company, 1902). The Read More …

Sounding the Old Wolf Cry

NOTE: This post first appeared on the Smithsonian Institution Archives’ official blog, The Bigger Picture, on September 14, 2013. Click here to visit the original post. While researching my last blog post on the “mad wolf” who escaped from the National Zoo, I came across an old black-and-white photograph in the Smithsonian Institution Archives that Read More …