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Queen Elizabeth has carried out countless state visits during her lengthy reign. Whenever she goes away, the monarch is presented with gifts. Some of these might seem very bizarre indeed – and not all of them are inanimate.
Animals are sometimes given as presents to the Royal Family.
For instance, during the Queen’s state visit to Brazil in 1968, she received a veritable menagerie.
She was given two black swans, five toucans, two giant anteaters, one sloth and one giant armadillo from President Artur da Costa e Silva.
Royal protocol dictates that animals should be placed into a local zoo, where they can be looked after properly.
On this occasion, the swans were sent to WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, the other birds and animals to ZSL London Zoo.
It’s not always travel-sized animals that make it the UK, though.
In 1972 African forest elephant Jumbo was handed over by President Ahidjo of Cameroon.
“He was flown back to Britain, the in-flight meal being fed bananas, avocados and sugar, and weighed 589kg on arrival,” explained the Royal Collection Trust.
The hefty beast was sent to ZSL London Zoo and then to the rural zoo at Whipsnade.
Sometimes the animals gifted are put to good use.
During The Queen’s State Visit to Germany in 1978, she was given two horses who were used as carriage horses.
In fact, a number of countries have presented the monarch with horses which have drawn the royal carriages, including Denmark, Morocco and Sweden.
On other occasions, the critters remain in their country of origin.
In 1974 a pig from the People of Vanuatu (then the New Hebrides) was given during The Queen’s official visit to Vanuatu, but it remained on the island.
Similarly, in 1995 the Queen was presented with a White Nguni bull from King of Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu of the Zulus during her state visit to South Africa, where the bull remained.
Over the years, Elizabeth has also been given two pygmy hippopotami from Liberia and a crocodile from the Gambia.
She’s also had two American beavers and an Arctic fox from Canada, two young giant tortoises from the Seychelles and six kangaroos from Australia.
According to Royal Collection Trust, the last gift the Queen was given was in 2016 – black gelding Sir John from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to commemorate The Queen’s 90th Birthday. He was named for Sir John MacDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister.
Due to the Queen’s advancing years, she no longer undertakes state visits.
This responsibility now falls to her children and grandchildren.
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