Queen’s pets: Weird and wonderful animals given to Her Majesty over the years

Queen's Platinum Jubilee: Alan Jones discusses plans in June

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Queen Elizabeth II, 95, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, is set to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee next year. The special occasion to mark her 70th year as Queen will be a chance for the nation to pay tribute to her decades of extraordinary service. The Government has agreed that an extended bank holiday weekend will be held for the Jubilee from June 2 to 5. An impressive schedule of events will take place across the four days including a live concert put on by the BBC live from Buckingham Palace.

The Queen was just 25 years old when she acceded to the throne in 1952 upon the death of her father King George VI.

Her coronation took place the following year at Westminster Abbey, launching the Queen onto the world stage.

As the Queen was crowned Sovereign, many heads of state passed on their warm regards, while some also sent extravagant gifts – including exotic animals.

For her 1953 coronation, the Queen was given three presents that recognised her passion for equestrianism.

She received two Arab stallions, one from King Faisal of Iraq and another, called ‘Alhehal’ (Crescent Moon) from the Imam of Yemen.

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The Imam of Yemen also sent an Arab mare, ‘Al Masouda’ (The Lucky One), while the Queen also received two polo ponies from President Perón of Argentina.

Over the years the Queen received several other horses, according to the Royal Collection Trust.

Speaking about her array of gifts, the charity said: “These have included a number of horses, some of which have been used for riding, others for carriage driving.”

Chairman Bulganin and General Secretary Krushchev of the Soviet Union gave the Queen and her son, Prince Charles, each a golden dun stallion in 1953.

However, the Soviets also began an unusual series of gifts for the monarch and her family by giving Princess Anne a three-month-old bear.

The cub called ‘Nikki’ was kept at ZSL London Zoo, which along with Whipsnade, had housed some of the Queen’s more exotic pets over the years.

Two pygmy hippopotami sent by President Tubman of Liberia in 1961 were also kept at ZSL London Zoo.

The zoo also housed a crocodile sent to the Queen from The Gambia, a sloth and two black jaguars from Brazil, and two beavers and an Arctic fox from Canada.

One of the largest gifts presented to the Queen was the African forest elephant ‘Jumbo’ sent by President Ahidjo of Cameroon in 1972.

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The Trust said: “He was flown back to Britain, the in-flight meal being fed bananas, avocados and sugar, and weighed 589kg on arrival.

“He was sent to ZSL London Zoo and then to the rural zoo at Whipsnade.”

It is not known what the Queen may receive for her Platinum Jubilee, but the monarch was showered with impressive gifts at her Silver Jubilee in 1977.

To mark the 25th anniversary of her reign she was given six red kangaroos, two Brolga cranes and one fat-tailed dunnart – a tiny marsupial – from the Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens in Australia.

The Trust said: “Recent animal gifts have often remained in their home country, such as the white Nguni bull presented by the King of the Zulus in South Africa in 1995.”

King of Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu presented the Queen with the animal during a state visit with her late husband Prince Philip.

Some of the Queen’s other unusual animal gifts have included Jersey cows, pigs from Fiji and Vanuatu, and exotic birds such as black swans and toco toucans.
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