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Gorgeous mule Marmite has been a firm favourite with staff and visitors alike since he arrived at Redwings Ada Cole in June this year. The 16-year-old gelding may now spend his time grazing with his new friends, but life hasn’t always been so quiet for this handsome chap.
In 2004, Marmite took part in the unveiling of the Animals in War memorial on Park Lane in London. This beautiful monument commemorates the many millions of animals who have suffered and died in human conflicts and was opened by HRH Princess Anne in the year that marked the 90th anniversary of the First World War. Click here to see a photo of Marmite meeting Princess Anne.
The First World War in particular was responsible for incredible suffering and loss of life in both human and animal terms, with more than eight million horses, mules and donkeys dying alongside over 10 million soldiers.
“At the unveiling, Marmite was pictured alongside the life-size bronze sculptures of two pack mules,” explains Redwings Chief Executive Lynn Cutress, “and his stoical presence served as a poignant reminder of the strength and stamina so valued in these unique animals.”
Mules are a cross between a horse and a donkey and have an incredible ability to cope in harsh conditions, and on very little food and water. Their natural hardiness therefore enabled them to survive on the front line in environments where other animals may have perished.
Marmite also provided a touching link with the past when he attended a reunion of the Chindit Special Forces in 2003. These intrepid troops fought in the Burmese jungle during the Second World War and once again, the tough nature of mules put them at the heart of operations as they carried equipment and wounded men in the most challenging conditions. Marmite wore an original army pack saddle at the reunion, bringing the memory of his courageous forebears to life.
Marmite was offered a place at Redwings, the UK’s largest horse sanctuary, when his owner’s health prevented her from providing the daily care that equines need. This amazing lady had bred Marmite herself and taught him to be ridden; the sight of a mule under saddle being so unusual these days that Marmite and his owner were featured in Your Horse magazine!
We’re delighted to be able to offer this very special mule a safe, permanent home where he is able to enjoy his retirement, and as Remembrance Day approaches we will be thinking of all the lives, both human and animal, that have been so tragically lost to war.
Lynn will also be attending, as she does every year, the special service held at the Animals in War memorial to commemorate the contribution and sacrifice made by animals in conflict on 13th November 2015.