Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/40

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20
SAWDUST AND SPANGLES

BEASTS AT WHOLESALE

In this particular branch of trade Germans take the lead. Charles Reiche, the New York partner, came to this country a very poor boy, and began peddling canaries, bullfinches, and other songbirds. He made his start in 1851 when he went to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama, and employed natives to carry the living freight on their backs. He marched with his men and carried a heavier burden than any servant in the caravan. His only great competitors were the Hagenbacks, of Hamburg. Since the death of the Reiche Brothers, the Hagenbacks have almost monopolized the trade, supplying the menageries and zoological gardens of the world. The Reiche Brothers left an enormous fortune made from this humble beginning.

There is something thrilling in the thought of the lives that have been lost, the sufferings and hardships endured, the perils encountered, and the vast sums of money expended in the capture and transportation of wild animals for the menageries, museums and zoological gardens. Indeed, the business has been so exclusively in the hands of two very quiet gentlemen, whose agencies cover nearly half the