Balto in Central Park

Central Park isn’t famous for statues.  It’s one of those things that you don’t think about…but try to think of a famous statue in Central Park and you’re hard-pressed to come up with some.

The exception is probably Balto.  I don’t know why, but I spent my youth in complete ignorance of Balto and only read about him once I became an adult and started to become aware of the Iditerod Trail Sled Race.  Balto was the lead sled dog for a significant part of the 1925 delivery of diphtheria medicine to Nome, Alaska.  Back in those days there was no airplane delivery, no roads, and no way to take the serum up by ship in the winter.  Nome was faced with an epidemic until Balto, his fellow huskies, and owner Gunnar Kaasen delivered the serum by dog sled team.

Balto became the symbol of the heroic actions taken to save Nome and schoolkids everywhere became smitten with the dog.  For its part, New York commissioned a statue to celebrate the dog which was put up less than a year after the mission.

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I kind of like having taken my pictures of the dog in winter.  It’s a bit more fitting.  I just wish that there had been snow on the ground (and on the dog’s statue).

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There is a plaque under the statue.

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As for Balto…he and his fellow sleddogs were purchased and displayed on the Vaudville circuit for a couple of years before they were purchased by the Cleveland Zoo.  After he died in 1933, he was stuffed and put out for display at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

You know, I remember Roy Rogers getting grief for displaying a stuffed Trigger.  But I guess an animal that performed a truly heroic feat can be stuffed and displayed without the hassle.

-H

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