Cotswold Wildlife Park Celebrates International War Animal Day

By Ella Cridland - 26 February 2024

  • 88-year old tortoise George with his knitted poppy blanket

    88-year old tortoise George with his knitted poppy blanket

Animal residents took part in worldwide commemorations to remember the animals who have served in countless wars and conflicts.

Alan Carr MBE, Susan Osborne and Mandy Hicks with six-month-old white rhino Henry

Co-founders of the War Horse Memorial, Susan Osborne and Alan Carr MBE were invited to Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens last week to officially launch International War Animal Day which was celebrated around the world on Saturday 24. 

Mandy Hicks, one of the Park's gardeners, hand-knitted 150 purple poppies especially for the event which included a purple poppy blanket, worn by the Park's oldest resident, 88-year-old Giant Tortoise George, who himself was born just before World War Two.

The Park took part in a worldwide celebrations to remember the many roles animals have played in countless wars and conflicts throughout history, from horses being used to carry water, food and medical supplies, to canaries being used to detect poisonous gases in the trenches of World War One.  

Alan Carr MBE stated the importance of such celebrations, especially as a nation of animal lovers:  “It starts with simple remembrance – the flying of the International War Animal Day flag, the laying of a wreath of knitted purple poppies or just the lighting of a candle – but we believe that, in time, it will be so much more. The purple poppy is the symbol we all recognise as a tribute to animals in war.

“We launched at the Cotswold Wildlife Park, in Burford, Oxfordshire, on Tuesday, February 20 2024 when the Giraffes, Donkeys, two White Rhinos calves called Susie and Henry, and George, an 88-year-old Giant Tortoise, showed their support for War Animal Day with purple poppies knitted by gardener Mandy Hicks."

Photographs courtesy of Rebecca Louise Farrow. 




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