around the world

15 animals that played an important role in the history of mankind

Selection of fascinating stories about the legendary animals

The history of mankind is written not only by brilliant scientists, politicians and military commanders. “Our smaller brothers” sometimes take an equally active part in it , and who knows what would have ended up without, for example, Alexander the Great Bucephalus, and Richard Nixon – the dog of Checksers.

Contents hide ]

  • 11. Wang Lin
  • 22. Bucephalus
  • 33. Saurus
  • 44. Dzhit
  • 55. Balto
  • 66. Checkers
  • 77. Keiko
  • 88. Elsa
  • 99. David Graybeard
  • 1010. Lonesome George
  • 1111. Dolly
  • 1212. Punxsutawney Phil
  • 1313. Whip
  • 1414. Laika
  • 1515. Bubbles

1. Lin Wang

“Grandfather Lin,” as it is also called, is perhaps the most famous elephant in human history. During the years of the Japan-China War, which later became part of the Second World Lin, Wang “fought” for some time on the side of the Japanese invaders invading Burma: the elephant carried cargo and carried artillery guns. In 1943, together with 12 other elephants, he was captured by the Chinese Expeditionary Force and continued his service there as a draft and “cargo” animal. There he was awarded the name A-Mei (in the translation from the whale – “Beautiful”).

After the end of the war, Van together with the corps arrived in China, where he remained until the end of his life. In 1952, the “veteran” was sent to retirement, and he became one of the main attractions of the Taipei Zoo. The director of the zoo believed that the name A-Mei was too feminine and renamed it Lin Wang. The elephant for many years became a real favorite of the townspeople and their children, and after his death in 2003 he was even given the title of an honorary citizen of the city.

By the way, according to the “Guinness Book of Records” Lin Wang, who died at the age of 86, was the oldest ever living elephant.

2. Bucephalus

Without his faithful horse Bucefala Alexander of Macedon certainly would not have received the honorary nickname “The Great”: the famous horse played in his life is not the least role. The life of Bucephalus is covered with legends and conjectures, but historians agree that this horse really existed.

According to legend, the first meeting between Alexander and the “Bullhead” (Latin Bucephalius) occurred when the future famous commander was 10 years old. His father, King Philip, was offered to buy Bucephalus for 13 talents (about 340 kg of silver – fabulous money at that time). But since no one was able to pacify the wild nature of the animal, the king was thinking about abandoning the deal.

Alexander intervened and said that if he did not manage to curb the horse, he would pay for it himself. A small cunning man noticed that Bucephal was afraid of his own shadow and, bucking, dropped all the riders. Jumping into the saddle, Alexander forced the horse to turn his head toward the sun in such a way that he could not see the shadows – only then the animal was finally able to calm down.

Philip II

There are various assumptions about the death of the legendary horse: some historians write that he died in battle, while others believe that the cause of death was old age. Be that as it may, Alexander was very fond of his mount and in his honor even founded the city of Bucefal, located in the territory of modern Pakistan – nowadays it is called Jalalpur.

3. Surus

Scientists believe that Surus (surus in the Phoenician from the “Syrian”) is the only elephant that survived the famous campaign of the Carthaginian commander Hannibal through the Alps.

According to some reports, the “Syrian” was the warlord’s favorite battle elephant: on it Hannibal traveled more often. According to the testimony of contemporaries, the famous military leader, almost all the elephants in his army were of African descent, but many report that at least one was from India – most likely, it is about Surus.

Perhaps, it was the Asian roots that allowed the elephant to survive all the hardships of the Hannibal’s Alpine trek, the main ones of which were hunger, cold, diseases and fierce battles with mountain tribes.

4. Didzhit

Outstanding ethologist (animal behavior specialist) Diane Fossi has worked with a huge number of gorillas during her scientific career, but her boy named Dijit always remained her favorite. Between Diane and the gorilla there was a real affection: they spent a lot of time together and did not trust any of the people as she did.

In 1977, Didzhit died at the hands of poachers, and his hands and head, designed to make exotic ashtrays, the killers sold for only $ 20. In memory of her late friend Fossi created the “Digit Foundation”, whose tasks included the rescue of mountain gorillas.

After the death of Digita, Diane lived only eight years: in 1985 she was hacked by an unknown attacker near her bungalow near the research center she founded. Most likely, the killer hired a commercial organization that exterminated the gorillas for profit. Since then, the fund for the rescue of gorillas has been renamed the “Dian Fossey Foundation” – in honor of a woman who devoted her life to studying and preserving primates, so similar to humans.

5. Balto

Siberian Husky Balto at one time was probably the most famous dog in the United States – outstanding stamina and scent made him a true national hero.

In 1925, an epidemic of diphtheria erupted in Nome in Alaska. The delivery of medicinal serum by air was impossible because of the storm that had begun, and sled dogs were found to be the only transport able to overcome 1,085 km in conditions of almost zero visibility and penetrating the icy wind.

On the last, most difficult stretch of the road with a length of about 83 km, a vital team led by Balto was carrying a vital cargo. The dogs nearly died when crossing the river, they turned the sleds, almost lost the box with ampoules, and more than once risked to go astray, but thanks to Balto’s insistence and perseverance, the medicine was delivered intact.

The epidemic was stopped in five days, and Balto and other dogs of the team became famous overnight. In less than a year, as in the Central Park of New York, a monument to Balto was erected, on it are carved words that could well be the motto of the animal: “Endurance, devotion, reason.”

6. Checkers

Psa Checksers Richard Nixon is bound to take off his political career – perhaps because of him Nixon became the 37th president of the United States.

In 1952, when Nixon was running for the post of vice president, he was accused of illegally donating funds for the election campaign. The seriousness of the charges almost led the then US President Dwight Eisenhower to abandon such a partner, but Nixon saved the situation by appearing on television with an appeal that went down in history as “Speech of Checkers.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

In it, Nixon denied all the charges, saying that the only gift he recognizes is the puppy Cocker Spaniel Checkers. I must say, Richard really had affection for him, and this helped him create the image of a “man from the people” and an animal lover. Public opinion leaned in favor of Nixon, and he received a long-awaited post, which allowed him to continue to climb the political ladder in a few years and become president. Unfortunately, Checkers did not wait for the master’s triumph: he died four years before Nixon’s inauguration.

7. Keiko

Probably, in the world there are a few animals that have become movie stars, and such as the male killer whale Keiko, and did not exist and no. Keiko played one of the main roles in the film “Free Willy” and his sequels. The epic story of the friendship between the boy and the killer whale, was so fond of the audience that they transferred huge sums for the maintenance and treatment of Keiko (during the film he suffered from a severe skin disease).

After the release of the picture on the screen Keiko, as they say, woke up famous: it turned out that thousands of people were concerned about his fate, who even organized a special fund to raise funds for the needs of a hard-hitting “artist”. In the rolling out two more films with his participation, after which Keiko was placed in the oceanarium of Newport (Oregon). After a couple of years of intensive medical procedures, the killer whale left for Iceland, where it was prepared for release.

Some doubted the expediency of such a step, believing that the animal would not be able to adjust again to the conditions of wildlife, and, unfortunately, the skeptics were right. In 2002, Keiko was released, and, circling about 1,400 km, he settled in the Tõnes fjord on the west coast of Norway, but in 2003 the famous “actor” died of pneumonia.

8. Elsa

Elsa was the first lioness in history who grew up in captivity and was able to successfully adapt to life on the loose. She was raised by a married couple George and Joy Adamson, who worked in Kenya’s Meru National Park.

In 1956, George had to shoot an angry lioness, who was going to attack him, and three of her charming lions were left without a mother. One of the orphaned cubs was Elsa.

The spouses raised and left the lioness, and when she grew older, they gradually began to accustom themselves to freedom, taking them away from the camp and inciting the wounded animals to wake up the instinct of the hunter. Gradually Elsa got used to independence, but from time to time she returned to the Adamsons.


Once the lioness was taken by a young male, and her “foster parents” sighed with relief and a bit of sadness: they realized that the predator was finally able to establish communication with relatives and now will forget the way home, but after a while Elsa again came to them with three newborn lions.

Joy Adamson dedicated Elsa’s book “Born to the Free”, on which the film of the same name was shot in 1966.

9. David Graybeard

David went down in history as a chimpanzee, from which the famous British ethologist and primatologist Jane Goodall began her more than 45-year observation of monkeys in the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.

Jane actually lived side by side with the Graybeard, studying his behavior. Thanks to David (and of course, Jane) the whole world learned that people are not the only ones who can create tools, and after seeing him hunting and fishing, Goodall concluded that chimpanzees eat not only fruits and leaves, as was previously thought.

Perhaps the most important merit of the Gray-bearded is that other chimpanzees, looking at the communication of the scientist and their congenitor, stopped eschewing Jane and allowed her to establish close contact. Based on her observations, Goodall created a detailed description of the life of the chimpanzee, and her works are still an unsurpassed classic of studying monkeys. We can say that David, who became the first object of observation of the great scientist, did more for science than some researchers.

10. Lonely George

The only known representative of the Abingdonian elephant turtles (subspecies of the Galapagos turtles) was often called the most famous bachelor in the world. Scientists for many years tried to get his offspring from him, but even after George’s mating with a genetically close partner, a miracle of the species’s revival did not happen – the embryos in the eggs laid by the female were unviable.

Huge, one and a half meters long and weighing about 80 kg of the male discovered in 1972 on the island of Abingdon (also known as Pinta) Hungarian scientist Jozsef Vagwoldi. No such animal was found on George Island on the island, so after his death on June 24, 2012, the Abingdon turtles are considered extinct. The most famous bachelor, according to some estimates, was about a hundred years old.

11. Dolly

This sheep was destined to change the story: born July 5, 1996, as a result of the experiment of Jan Wilmut and Keith Campbell, Dolly became the world’s first successfully cloned mammal.

The birth of Dolly put an end to the debate about whether cloning of complex living beings is possible in principle, and the technologies used to conceive it were subsequently widely used in cloning mice, dogs, cats and even horses. Thus, Dolly gave a powerful impetus to the development of medicine and biology, defining their development for many years to come.

Kate Campbell

The sheep lived for 6.5 years, and all this time it attracted the attention of the world community: in the headlines of the time, her name is found almost more often than the names of the stars of music and cinema. In 2003, Dolly was put to sleep, and her effigy was exhibited at the Royal Museum of Scotland. By the way, Dolly was also the first cloned mother in history – she gave birth to six lambs.

12. Panssaathon Phil

Surely many of you have heard of Groundhog Day (February 2): it is believed that the behavior of marmots on this day can predict the nearness of the onset of spring. When the marmots calmly leave their burrows, this indicates that the winter is at its last gasp, and if the animals, fearfully looking around, are hiding back – in less than six weeks, do not wait for the heat.

The most famous marmot-foreteller of all time and people – Phil, who lives in the city of Punksatoni (Pennsylvania). Residents of the city claim that only Phil can anticipate the weather, and all the other marmots are mistaken. According to the legend, the marmot is given a special elixir of longevity, so in 2013 he was 172 years old (with the usual life expectancy of marmots – up to ten years).

Of course, Phil’s “longevity” is nothing more than a bait for tourists, but the loyalty of the residents of Panxatoni to their traditions causes respect. True, one day the “long-liver” was almost sentenced to death: an attorney from Ohio accused the marmot that he “promised” Americans early spring, but after Phil emerged from the hole, the temperature dropped to -30 ° C. American climatologists have calculated that the forecasts of the famous marmot are true by 39%, but many fans of Phil call other numbers – from 75% to 90%.

13. Whip

From a small white bear born on December 5, 2006 in the Berlin Zoo, the mother refused immediately after birth, but this family tragedy turned out to be a real gift for the zoo. The news of the “abandoned baby Knuth” quickly spread all over Germany, and crowds of compassionate Germans, who were eager to see the “orphan” and take part in his destiny, were drawn to Berlin. In honor of the bear, they even called children: more than half of the boys born in March 2007 in Berlin are called Knut.

The employees of the zoo raised Knut, and for several years he became a “gold mine” for them: books, films were written about the famous white bear, and toys and souvenirs depicting a bear are still sold in Berlin, although he himself died in 2011 year. After the death of Knuth, a monument was erected in the zoo, which immediately became a place of pilgrimage for numerous admirers of the animal.

14. Laika

The names of Squirrels and Arrows are known, without exaggeration, to the whole world. Returning from orbit, they entered the history of astronautics forever, but do not forget that their flight was preceded by several other launches that were not so successful, but allowed scientists to “work on the mistakes” and thus ensured the success of the famous couple’s expedition.

Laika’s flight took place on November 3, 1957, almost three years before the start of Belka and Strelka. The experiment program did not provide for the return of Laika to Earth, so scientists knew that the dog was doomed, and in addition to the desire for space exploration that they experienced while preparing the dog for shipment to space, the researchers probably felt something similar to compassion.

The design of the module was designed for Laika’s weekly stay in orbit, but as a result of the miscalculations she died, having made four turns around the Earth. The Soviet Union for a long time hushed up the details of the incident, and scientists even reported to the whole world about observations of the physiological characteristics of the dog, although Lika was already dead by that time.

15. Bubbles

Bubbles is a chimpanzee born in one medical lab, and for some time he served as a scientist for experimental animals, but thanks to a happy accident he was recognized by Michael Jackson, who bought the animal, and for several years they practically did not part.

Primate knows firsthand about life with the king of pop music: he took an active part in Jackson’s concerts, accompanied him at parties where he met the bohemian of the 1980s, and was, according to Michael, one of his few true friends. The singer even intended to transplant the chimpanzee human bundles so that he could talk, but the idea was dissuaded by scientists who believed that Bubbles would not survive the operation. This unusual friendship is immortalized in 1988 by sculptor Jeff Koons (Jeff Koons), who created a gilded statue that depicts the pop king and his full-sized monkey.

When Bubbles grew up and became too aggressive, Michael sent him to the Center for the Great Apes in Florida, but regularly called the primacy so that he could hear his voice. After Jackson’s death, his chimpanzee for some time was in the spotlight, but gradually interest in him subsided. Now Bubbles still lives in Florida and, according to the staff of the Center, misses his “star” friend.

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