Interesting and Valuable

J.T. Jr." The Biography of An African Monkey. By Della E. Akeley. (Macmillan.)

FIVE years ago the late Carl Akeley, famous big-game hunter and taxidermist, recorded his African adventures in a volume entitled “In Brightest Africa.” He had made four extended expeditions into the interior of the continent for the American Museum of Natural History during the years when large elephant herds were to be encountered where now the motor car is heard. With him went his plucky wife, Della Akeley, who here sets forth in a simple, charming manner, some of her own experiences in the African wilderness.

But it is no Amazon’s book that Mrs. Akeley has written. Though she experienced many hair-raising adventures with her husband and stood up to them like a courageous gentleman, she seems to have done so less as an adventuress than as her man’s loyal woman. Upon one occasion, when she and Mr. Akeley were in an exceedingly tight place with a wounded and murder-minded bull elephant, she frankly confesses that she collapsed with fright — not, however, until she had done her duty with a small caliber rifle and her man was safe. Nor was she greatly interested in her husband’s triumphant announcement that he had never seen so large a beast. “Bother your old elephant,” said she, “I want to go home and keep house.” And there were other occasions for frankly confessing a paralyzing terror, as when, deep in the sunless jungle, haunted by unseen monsters, she was obliged to retreat into the kindly country of the day.

It is only incidentally that Mrs. Akeley refers to her wilder adventurers. Her chief interest here, as doubtless throughout her African wanderings, is characteristically feminine.

During the second expedition of the Akeleys into African, made for the purpose of securing a group of elephants for the American Museum, Mrs. Akeley captured a female baby monkey on the Tana River and, disregarding the small fact of sex, named the little beast after her friend, J. T. McCutcheon, the cartoonist. “J. T. Jr.” became the mascot of the travelling camp, and with a native boy to carry her and look after her needs, she saw many a strange land. Whether owing to exceptional natural gifts or to her intimate association with Mrs. Akeley and the other members of the party, “J. T.” developed mental powers considerably beyond the average of her kind, and it is the enthralling tale of the wise little monkey’s progress towards the human that Mrs. Akeley tells.

After several years of wandering with her mistress in Africa, “J. T.” was brought to New York, where she lived in an apartment hotel until, at the age of 12, becoming dangerous through her extreme sensitiveness, she was given to a zoo. Her death soon after seems to have been caused by what we might call a broken heart.

It is a pitiful story and one over which many readers are likely to ponder. “J. T.”, seems to have developed beyond the stage that is good for a being with such natural handicaps in a human world. We are assured, and with good reason for belief, that the little monkey came to understand not only the moods of human beings, but even the drift of their casual conversation to a considerable extent. Though Mrs. Akeley made no effort to teach “J. T.,” wishing rather to penetrate the monkey’s consciousness than to impose human traits upon it, the cunning little travesty of man learned to speak the word yes in answer to simple questions relating to her own desires. When the answer should have been no, “J. T.” ignored the question.

“J. T. Jr.,” is not only an excellent story for both grownups and youngsters; it is an important contribution to the study of animal intelligence.