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What is considered the most significant memorial dedicated to animals that died in wars and conflicts?

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Considered the most significant memorial devoted to commemorating animals that died in wars and conflicts is 'The Animals in War Memorial' that is located at Brook Gate, Park Lane, just outside Hyde Park in London, England. The memorial, designed and sculpted by David Backhouse (1941 - ), was unveiled by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) at a simple ceremony on 24 November 2004, on the 90th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. The memorial was inspired by 'Animals in War', a book by Jilly Cooper, OBE (1937 - ) that was first published in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum in 1982. In 1996, Jilly Cooper started the Animals in War Memorial Fund with Princess Anne (1950 - ) as patron and undertook a nationwide fundraising operation to raise the £2 million that was required to build it and maintain it in perpetuity. As inscribed on its frontispiece, this "monument is dedicated to all the animals that served and died alongside British and Allied forces in wars and campaigns throughout time". A second, smaller inscription simply reads: "They had no choice". As shown in the photograph, the memorial's principal elements include a dominant 70-foot long Portland stone wall carved with the many different animals that served as well as two heavily-laden bronze mules approaching the wall's gap. Beyond the wall is a bronze horse and dog "bearing witness to the loss of their comrades and representing hope for the future". Images of the many different animals used in 20th century conflicts are depicted throughout the memorial, including: bullocks, camels, canaries, cats, dogs, donkeys, elephants, horses, mules, oxen, pigeons, and rams. As the world's largest memorial dedicated to animals in war, it has become the 'standard' for others to emulate across the world.

On this day, 24 November 2020, we commemorate the 16th anniversary of the unveiling of The Animals in War Memorial in London, England, which serves as a powerful and moving tribute to all the animals that served, suffered and died in times of war and conflicts.

André M. Levesque

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