Animals and the Olympic Games

Olympic Games PosterOther than the animals depicted as Olympic Games mascots, the Equestrian events (and the equestrian part of Modern Pentathlon) are the only current Olympic events that involve animals. This has not always the case.

In the Ancient Olympics, chariot races and horse racing were once part of the program, and animal sacrifice was often a component of the ceremonies surrounding the events.

In modern times, a shooting event called Live Pigeon Shooting was held in 1900. The objective of this event was to shoot and kill as many birds as possible. This was the first and only time in Olympic history when animals were killed on purpose. In 1988 birds were again killed at the Olympics, but accidentally this time. At the opening ceremony a flock of doves was released into the stadium and unfortunately as the cauldron was lit some of the birds were burned to death.

Another animal shooting event was on the program between 1908 till 1948. In the running deer shooting event, however, the "deer' in this case were targets in the shape of deer.

At the Winter Olympics, the only involvement of animals has been in demonstration events. At the Lake Placid Winter Olympics in 1932 there was a Dog sled racing demonstration event. Horses were involved at the 1928 Olympics in St. Moritz, in the Skijoring demonstration event which involved athletes being towed behind horses.

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