Friday, 6 December 2013

An Exotic Creature

Louis XV was given the unusual gift of a rhinoceros by the French governor Jean-Baptiste Chevalier in Chandernagore in 1769. This meant that the rhinoceros - which was a male - was sent on its way from India to France where it landed on 4 June 1770. However, the strange creature did not arrive at the menagerie at Versailles before 11 September because there was no vehicle capable of transporting the heavy animal so one had to be built first.
For 22 years the rhinoceros made spectators at Versailles gasp at the strangeness of the animal but sadly the rhinoceros had a sad ending. During the revolution a revolutionary saw the animal as a sign of royalty and hacked it to death with his sabre. The mutilated corpse was then brought to the natural institute in Paris where it was stuffed and its skeleton was taken out and is now on display. There was one strange little discovery made as late as 1992 when it was found out that the horn actually belonged to a black African rhinoceros instead of the Indian rhinoceros' horn which is much smaller. After this the horn was exchanged with a horn of a Indian rhinoceros.

Louis XV's rhinoceros

No comments:

Post a comment