City parks are filled with animal sculptures—some quite brutal and realistic, reminding genteel urbanites of the power and grandeur of nature.
But one statue pays homage to a specific brave creature: Balto the Siberian husky.
In 1925, Balto led a team of dogs through 600 miles of blinding blizzard to deliver diphtheria medicine to kids in isolated Nome, Alaska.
He was arguably the most popular dog in the country after his story hit the news, prompting some New Yorkers to raise funds to have him immortalized in bronze.
The real Balto even came to the city for his statue’s unveiling just 10 months later:
The parks commissioner said of Balto’s statue, “it was a most unique occasion in having a real ‘hero’ present at the dedication of a monument in his honor, as most heroes have to wait until they are dead to be so honored,” reported The New York Times.
“‘But we are glad,’ he added, ‘to reward loyalty and courage, even in a dog.'”
While Balto’s statue is one of the most popular in the park, the real Balto had a few rough years, sold to the vaudeville circuit before he was rescued by the Cleveland Zoo, where he lived out the rest of his life.
[Top photo: Centralpark2000.com]