Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Balto--Media Sensation

Balto and the other members of the team. Five were kept in Alaska, and I can't find out anything about them. Seven were sent on the US tour with Balto. The dogs that went to live at Brookside Zoo were Sye, Fox, Old Moctoc, Tillie, Billy, and Alaska Slim:

Sye was the youngest member of the team, and the last of the seven members to die after Balto (he died a year after Balto did, in 1934.) Rumor has it that he was the only member of the team to breed. There is reference to his escaping from the enclosure at the Cleveland Brookside Zoo (now the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo), and impregnating a German Shepherd dog.

Fox was noted as the "second in command" of the team, the co-leader (after Balto). Gunnar Kaasen, the team's musher, was under instructions from Leonhard Seppala his boss, mentor and the owner of the dogs to NOT use Balto as a lead dog on the twelve-member team. Seppala wanted Kaasen to use Fox, a dog with more experience.

Old Moctoc was the oldest member of the team, and was said to look so much like a wolf that he sometimes scared people who were not accustomed to him.

Tillie was the only female in the team.

I can't find anything about Billy or Alaska Slim. Does anyone know anything about these two animals?

Balto in Central Park

Balto at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

A future Clevelander was the hero of the run that inspired the Iditarod. Or so legend has it.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race first ran to Nome in 1973, in honor of the route that was Alaska's central artery when dog team was the main means of travel. The trail's last burst of glory came in 1925, when serum delivered by a relay of teams saved icebound Nome from a diphtheria epidemic.
Musher Leonhard Seppala and his lead dog, Togo, ran the longest and most dangerous leg of the six-day, 674-mile relay. But it was Gunnar Kaasen, blinded by a raging blizzard, who drove the final two legs behind his lead dog, Balto. They won worldwide fame.
Two years later, Cleveland businessman George Kimble found Balto and his team tied to a sled, underfed and abused, in a "dime museum" sideshow in Los Angeles. Outraged, he organized a campaign with The Plain Dealer that saw school kids raise $2,000 in 10 days to buy the dogs.
A month later, Cleveland gave the team a heroes welcome and parade, and a fitting home at the Brookside (now Metroparks) Zoo. After Balto died in March 1933, his body was mounted and given to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where it remains.
In Alaska, Togo is considered "the true heroic lead dog of the run," musher Emil Churchin said. "To some, Balto had more of a purebred look and enjoyed people. Others say Balto's owner was more savvy, and Seppala was bitter that Togo didn't get the fame. Togo looks scrawny in comparison, but Togo is more like the modern racing dog."

Balto (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In typical Hollywood BS Balto was portrayed as half wolf. Not. He was a purbred. He also sired pups in the movie. Not. Balto was castrated. Worst of all Togo was portrayed as a villain. And that's why I don't waste my time or money viewing Hollywood animal movies. The last one I saw was Dumbo, and I was devastated when I found out years later that elephant's can't really fly.

This famous footage of Balto and his team arriving in Nome is actually a "reenactment." When they arrived in Nome in the night time it was too dark to film, so they waited until the next day and had the team "arrive again" so it could be filmed for posterity.

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