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Animal biographies? Dee Robinson drafts short 'lives' of four famous animals.


ONE OF THE ORIGINAL three stallions (with the Darley Arabian and the Byerly Turk) from which the entire British thoroughbred racehorse bloodstock is derived. The horse was presented to Louis XV by the Bey of Tunis and brought to England in 1729 by Edward Coke (younger brother of the agricultural reformer Coke of Holkham), who acquired the horse via the French court and brought him to Longford Hall in Derbyshire.

Edward Coke died in 1733 and Francis, Earl of Godolphin, inherited his horses, thus giving him the title of the Godolphin Arabian. He was moved to the Earl's stud near Newmarket, within the Iron Age fort at Wandlebury Ring. The mansion was levelled in 1956, but the stables remain. His constant companion was said to be the stable cat, Grimalkin.

Godolphin Arabian died in 1753 aged twenty-nine. His inscribed gravestone can still be seen inside the archway of the stable block at Wandlebury Ring. The portrait painted by George Stubbs in 1792, was based on a drawing from life by David Morier.

Godolphin Arabian, a brown bay 14 hands one inch high, sired about 90 foals including many undefeated racers and stallions and mares famous for their beauty, prowess and lineage. His line can be traced through all the most famous stables down to the present time.

William Osmer, a breeder, said of him,

Whoever has seen him must remember that his shoulders were deeper and lay farther into his back than any horse yet seen; behind his shoulders there was but a small space; before the muscles of his loin rose excessively high, broad, and expanded, which were inserted into his quarters with greater strength and power than any horse ever yet seen of his dimensions. It is not to be wondered at that the excellence of this horse's shape was not in early times manifest to some men, considering the plainness of his head and ears, the position of his fore-legs, and his stunted growth, occasioned by want of food in the country where he was bred.

DOLLY (1996-2003)

DOLLY THE SHEEP was born on July 5th, 1996, in Edinburgh, and was history's first successfully cloned mammal. She was cloned from a cell of another sheep by the biotechnology firm PPL Therapeutics and the Roslin Institute of Edinburgh, under the direction of Dr Ian Wilmut. The birth was announced to the press in February 1997.

Dolly was cloned from an adult cell; her chromosomes had been taken from the udder cells of one sheep and injected into an egg cell from another which had had its DNA removed. Her name came about during the latter stages of labour as stockmen involved in the delivery joked that the cell used came from a mammary gland and arrived at Dolly Parton, the country and western singer.

Dolly, a Finn Dorset, bred normally on two occasions with a Welsh mountain ram called David. First she gave birth to Bonnie on April 23th, 1998, and then to three more lambs in 1999. These births proved that Dolly was not just a successful living clone when she was born, but that she succeeded in growing and maturing to normal adulthood.

Dolly was put down by a lethal anaesthetic injection on February 7th, 2003, after doctors detected progressive lung disease. At six and a half years old, she had only reached half the lifespan of a typical Finn Dorset sheep; she had severe arthritis and was suffering from lung cancer caused by a virus.
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Author:Robinson, Dee
Publication:History Today
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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