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World War One: The circus animals that helped Britain

Fascinating article from BBC about the conscription of circus animals due to shortages of horses.

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An Oliphaunt: Grey as a mouse/ Big as a house/ Nose like a snake/ I make the earth shake/ As I tramp through the grass/ Trees crack as I pass./ With horns in my mouth/ I walk in the South/ Flapping big ears./ Beyond count of years/ I stump round and round/ Never lie on the ground/ Not even to die./ Oliphaunt am I/ Biggest of all/ Huge, old, and tall./ If ever you'd met me/ You wouldn't forget me./ If you never do/ You won't think I'm true/ But old Oliphaunt am I/ And I never lie.

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World War One: The circus animals that helped Britain

"By 1916 most of their heavy horses had gone to the front," she said. "Lizzie was an Indian elephant, intelligent and trainable - she wou...

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Elephants as war workers Surprisingly elephants were used during WW1 as military auxiliaries. This image was taken in Sheffield. The elephant is providing vital help with war work and hauling 8-ton loads. Due to the lack of horses, elephants were taken from zoos and circuses during WW1 and put to work.

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Carthaginian war elephant, artwork by J. Shumate. Hannibal's war elephants: http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/hannibal/videos/hannibals-war-elephants

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World War One: The circus animals that helped Britain

As World War One raged, the military purchased most of England's horses and sent them to the Western Front. Many farmers and traders had to find alternative beasts of burden, but none more exotic than elephants. Here, an Indian elephant named Lizzie was conscripted from a travelling menagerie to to cart munitions, machines and scrap metal around the city, a job previously done by three horses taken off to war.

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