Balto

This past weekend the Cleveland Museum of Natural History celebrated Balto’s 100 year birthday. Not familiar with Balto? Well… In January, 1925 there was an outbreak of diphtheria that hit the children of Nome, Alaska. The only serum that could save their lives was in Anchorage and the only way to get it there was by a team of sled dogs.

It was Balto, a Serbian Husky who, along with his handler, Gunnar Kaasen, led a team of dogs on the final leg of the journey to get the serum to Nome. Balto and Kassen became heroes after their daring feat. A statue of him was even erected in Central Park to honor him.

But things took a turn for the worse for Balto years after his historic run, when he was sold and placed in chains, in a small pin at a novelty museum in Los Angeles. Cleveland businessman, George Kimble, discovered him and his companions living in these unhealthy conditions and worked with The Plain Dealer to bring him and his team to Cleveland.

In 1927, they arrived to a hero’s welcome and their new home, the Brookside Zoo (now the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo). When Balto passed away in 1933, his body was stuffed and donated to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where he remains on display today!

His statue in Central Park