Talk to the Animals

Zoologist and animal behaviour expert, Sally Hibbard, is interested in the relationship between people and their pets. She’s a fan of frogs, scared of spiders and can be seen spotting stick insects.

Talk to the Animals: 5 Royal fun facts

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To honour the arrival of the Royals, blogger Sally Hibbard exposes five animal fun facts linked to the monarchy.
The Queen loves her corgis. Photo / Thinkstock
The Queen loves her corgis. Photo / Thinkstock

1. Lupo banned from Christmas
No-one could miss William and Kate's very cute cocker spaniel as he cleverly positioned himself front and centre for the recent royal portrait. Lupo - Italian for wolf - has now firmly established his pet celebrity status. However, looks may be deceiving. Apparently the Queen banned the cute pooch from the royal Christmas fearing he may upset (upstage?) the corgis. In Lupo's defense it seems the Queen's corgis have a long history of naughtyness. To be fair these incidents are shared by at least 30 animals, as the Queen's fondness for the breed has not diminished over the years.


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince George and their cocker spaniel Lupo. Photo/ File

2. Corgis Behaving Badly
As early as 1954, Susan, the Queen's very first corgi, bit the royal clockwinder. Not to be outdone, one of the Queen Mother's corgis then bit a policeman on guard duty later in the same year.

After the postman fell victim to the next corgi attack, a "Beware of Dogs" sign was installed at Balmoral. However, following further similar incidents it is reported that an animal psychologist was hired to 'tame' the dogs. This may not have quite fixed the problem as the Queen herself later required three stitches to her hand after stepping in to break up a fight between at least 10 of her feisty corgis. I believe the corgi will endure as the animal we associate most with the monarchy. The Queen owns a very moderate four at present, two of which are crossed with daschunds which apparently makes them 'dorgis'.

3. For the royal that has everything
In addition to their own pets, members of the royal family have received some very exotic if not impractical animal gifts over the years. One of these was a crocodile, gifted to the Queen for Prince Andrew after an official visit to Gambia. The Queen's private secretary at the time, Sir Martin Charteris was nominated to care for the royal reptile and bravely housed it in his bath until it was passed on to the London Zoo. As a result of royal regifting, London Zoo has in fact done rather well, receiving jaguars and sloths from Brazil, giant tortoises from the Seychelles, Canadian beavers, Liberian pygmy hippos and Jumbo the African bull elephant, a thoughtful gift from the president of the Cameroon.


Prince Andrew was given a crocodile on his royal visit to Gambia. Photo / Thinkstock

4. Royal patronages
The Royal family is very generous with their support of animal welfare, livestock and wildlife trusts and charities. As well as major organisations such as the RSPCA and the Worldwide Fund for Nature, smaller groups such as St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital and the Gloucester Old Spot Pig Breeders Club boast royal patronage. Many reflect a particular interest of the royal concerned, with the Duke of Edinburgh favouring all things ornithological (birds) and the Princess Royal lending her support to many equine causes.

5. Bats at Balmoral
The royal's affinity with wildlife doesn't stand simply with endorsements. Balmoral, the Queen's summer residence, is host to a colony of bats, and, to her Majesty's credit, she has no problem sharing her home with them. They have established a roosting spot in the main hall of the castle, and despite being rather messy, staff have been told to leave them be. Apparently the Queen can be seen most summer afternoons carefully relocating the bats to the grounds of her estate using a specially constructed bat catching net.


Balmoral Castle is home to a colony of bats. Photo / British Tourist Authority

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