Why Queen Elizabeth Owns All of the Dolphins and Swans in England
And Her Majesty's menagerie doesn't stop there.
Queen Elizabeth is a well-known animal lover. Over 80 years, the queen has owned an estimated 30 corgis, each just as special as the last. But her royal menagerie doesn’t stop at tiny dogs. Here are just a few of the more exotic animals owned by Her Majesty — both living in Buckingham Palace and around the U.K.
In 1968, the Queen became the proud owner of two sloths following a state visit to Brazil. The pair of adorable creatures, however, never made it to the palace and instead were given to the London Zoo, along with a plethora of other exotic animals given to the Queen by world leaders over the years including jaguars, two black beavers from Canada, and a 7-year-old bull elephant named Jumbo who arrived in the U.K. from Cameroon in 1972.
All the Whales in British Waters
The Queen’s power doesn’t stop at land’s end. In fact, thanks to a rule that dates back to the 1300s, Her Majesty technically owns all the sturgeons, whales, and dolphins in the waters around the U.K., according to TIME.
"This statute is still valid today, and sturgeons, porpoises, whales, and dolphins are recognised as 'fishes royal': when they are captured within 3 miles of U.K. shores or wash ashore, they may be claimed on behalf of the Crown,” TIME reports. “Generally, when brought into port, a sturgeon is sold in the usual way, and the purchaser, as a gesture of loyalty, requests the honour of its being accepted by Elizabeth."
30 Race Horses
The Queen is a well-decorated horsewoman. Her first horse, a Shetland called Peggy, was given to her by her grandfather, King George V, when she was 4 years old, according to TIME.
At any given time, the Queen has around 30 horses in training for various events. According to the Sunday Express, the Queen won her first race as an owner back in 1949 when her 8-year-old steeplechaser Monaveen won at Fontwell Park.
All the Swans in the River Thames
Like all the whales in British waters, the queen also technically co-owns all unmarked mute swans in “certain stretches of the Thames and its surrounding tributaries," according to the official website of the Royal Family. She shares the privilege of swan ownership with the Worshipful Company of Vintners and the Worshipful Company of Dyers.
The royal family takes ownership of the swans very seriously. For more than 700 years, all swan-related royal duties are handled by the Keeper of the Swans. Every year, the Queen and her swan posse count each and every swan in the river as part of a census program that now works as more of a conservation and education program than actual ownership.
Today, the tradition is observed during the annual "Swan Upping," in which the swans swimming in the River Thames are caught, ringed, and set free again.
A Colony of Bats
According to the Sunday Express, the Queen shares her summer home, Balmoral, with a small colony of bats that reside in the main hall of the castle. The Queen allegedly refuses to let staff meddle with the bats, “despite the extra cleaning work that they generate.”
The Queen, according to CBC, is so involved with the bats that she assists a footman in catching the bats with a specially outfitted butterfly net and takes them outside herself.