On the Hundredth Anniversary of the Start of World War I, Remembering the Part Animals Played

Tucked between two lanes of traffic at Brook Gate, in London’s leafy Hyde Park, two heavily laden mules, cast in bronze, trudge terrified but steadfast across an imaginary battlefield. In front of them, carved into a long wall of white Portland stone, is a frieze of other animals—an elephant, a camel, dogs, carrier pigeons—with an inscription that reads, “They had no choice.” The sacrifice of the nearly ten million men who died from 1914 to 1918 will always remain the focus of our remembrance. But on the eve of the hundredth anniversary of World War I, we can also reflect on the fact that animals played a big part—and paid a high price. Indeed, throughout history no other conflict has seen as many animals deployed as the “war to end all wars.”



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