The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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Most people would agree, if they were asked to vote, that the ugliest and clumsiest of all animals is the rhinoceros. Even the hippopotamus shines by comparison, frightful though it is, because, for one reason, it is a water beast, and a water beast can never manage to look so nasty as a land one.
To begin with, the rhinoceros' shape is heavy and awk­ward, and the horn, right in the middle of its face, does not add to its beauty. Then its eyes, instead of being large and soft, as they so often are in a wild animal, look mean and small, though they are several times the size of those of a man. But, worst of all, its skin is hard and hairless, and looks as if it would come off in scales. Oh, there is no doubt that a rhinoceros is a very ugly beast indeed!
The tribe is divided broadly into two kinds, and is now seldom seen north of the Zambesi river. The white rhinoceros, who must look even more unwholesome than her black fellow, is timid, gentle, and fat, and eats nothing but grass. The black rhinoceros is thin, fierce, and very cautious; but both alike take care never to stray more than seven or eight miles from a river, as they can­not go for months without water, like the eland and some kinds of gazelles.
But whatever we may think of them, even rhinoceroses are not without their friends and admirers; and chief among these are a race of birds, which are never happy unless they are sitting on their broad backs. If by any chance the bird misses its rhinoceros, while the great
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