Manuscripts and Special Collections

A leopard in Nottinghamshire?

January 24th, 2011 at 12:01

The following extract comes from a letter written by the Duke of Newcastle to Mr Parr on 26th May 1828 from Portsmouth [ref: Ne6/E/4/21/2/12].

Parr,

A leopard has been sent to me from India and it will leave London tomorrow by the train[?], directed to be left at Markham Moor.

She is in a cage and is very tame and harmless as a cat the people play with her without her attempting to do any mischief, nevertheless it may be prudent for some keeper to make fun with her. She may be lodged at Hardwick under the care of Makin. In India she was tied and treated like a dog and on board ship she was a pet with the sailors and I saw them onboard put their hands into her mouth scratch her head and body and pull her about like a domestic animal.

Direct Makin to keep her remarkably clean and to feed her at fixed hours. She should not be let out of the cage for fear of accident…

…Kind treatment and confidence is what renders these animals docile and disarms them of their ferocity, this is a very young one and has been brought up by hand from a whelp; it is therefore domesticated and quite ignorant of a savage state.

Unfortunately, the leopard was not a success. A further item tucked into this letter recalls what happened next:

The writer remembers seeing the cage over 30 years ago.
The leopard after being kept there for some time got very savage having attacked several people who attempted to go near it. The Duke had to part with it by presenting it to the Zoological Gardens London fearing it might do harm.

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