Balto
Overview
 
Balto was a Siberian Husky
Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky is a medium-size, dense-coat working dog breed that originated in north-eastern Siberia. The breed belongs to the Spitz genetic family...

 sled dog who led his team on the final leg of the 1925 serum run to Nome
1925 serum run to Nome
During the 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the "Great Race of Mercy," 20 mushers and about 150 sled dogs relayed diphtheria antitoxin by dog sled across the U.S. territory of Alaska in a record-breaking five and a half days, saving the small city of Nome and the surrounding communities from...

, in which diphtheria
Diphtheria
Diphtheria is an upper respiratory tract illness caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae, a facultative anaerobic, Gram-positive bacterium. It is characterized by sore throat, low fever, and an adherent membrane on the tonsils, pharynx, and/or nasal cavity...

 antitoxin
Antitoxin
An antitoxin is an antibody with the ability to neutralize a specific toxin. Antitoxins are produced by certain animals, plants, and bacteria. Although they are most effective in neutralizing toxins, they can kill bacteria and other microorganisms. Antitoxins are made within organisms, but can be...

 was transported from Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage is a unified home rule municipality in the southcentral part of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is the northernmost major city in the United States...

, to Nenana, Alaska
Nenana, Alaska
Nenana is a Home Rule City in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area of the Unorganized Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska. Nenana lies at the juncture of the Nenana River and the Tanana River. The population was 402 at the 2000 census. "Nenana" means 'a good place to camp between two rivers.'-History...

, by train and then to Nome
Nome, Alaska
Nome is a city in the Nome Census Area in the Unorganized Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska, located on the southern Seward Peninsula coast on Norton Sound of the Bering Sea. According to the 2010 Census, the city population was 3,598. Nome was incorporated on April 9, 1901, and was once the...

 by dog sled
Dog sled
A dog sled is a sled pulled by one or more sled dogs used to travel over ice and through snow. Numerous types of sleds are used, depending on their function. They can be used for dog sled racing.-History:...

 to combat an outbreak of the disease. The run is commemorated by the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Balto was named after the Sami
Sami people
The Sami people, also spelled Sámi, or Saami, are the arctic indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. The Sámi are Europe’s northernmost...

 explorer Samuel Balto
Samuel Balto
Samuel Johannesen Balto was a Norwegian - Sami explorer and adventurer. The legendary sled dog Balto was named after Samuel Balto.-Biography:...

. Balto died at the age of 14.
In January 1925, doctors realized that a potentially deadly diphtheria
Diphtheria
Diphtheria is an upper respiratory tract illness caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae, a facultative anaerobic, Gram-positive bacterium. It is characterized by sore throat, low fever, and an adherent membrane on the tonsils, pharynx, and/or nasal cavity...

 epidemic
Epidemic
In epidemiology, an epidemic , occurs when new cases of a certain disease, in a given human population, and during a given period, substantially exceed what is expected based on recent experience...

 was poised to sweep through Nome's young people.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Balto was a Siberian Husky
Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky is a medium-size, dense-coat working dog breed that originated in north-eastern Siberia. The breed belongs to the Spitz genetic family...

 sled dog who led his team on the final leg of the 1925 serum run to Nome
1925 serum run to Nome
During the 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the "Great Race of Mercy," 20 mushers and about 150 sled dogs relayed diphtheria antitoxin by dog sled across the U.S. territory of Alaska in a record-breaking five and a half days, saving the small city of Nome and the surrounding communities from...

, in which diphtheria
Diphtheria
Diphtheria is an upper respiratory tract illness caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae, a facultative anaerobic, Gram-positive bacterium. It is characterized by sore throat, low fever, and an adherent membrane on the tonsils, pharynx, and/or nasal cavity...

 antitoxin
Antitoxin
An antitoxin is an antibody with the ability to neutralize a specific toxin. Antitoxins are produced by certain animals, plants, and bacteria. Although they are most effective in neutralizing toxins, they can kill bacteria and other microorganisms. Antitoxins are made within organisms, but can be...

 was transported from Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage is a unified home rule municipality in the southcentral part of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is the northernmost major city in the United States...

, to Nenana, Alaska
Nenana, Alaska
Nenana is a Home Rule City in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area of the Unorganized Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska. Nenana lies at the juncture of the Nenana River and the Tanana River. The population was 402 at the 2000 census. "Nenana" means 'a good place to camp between two rivers.'-History...

, by train and then to Nome
Nome, Alaska
Nome is a city in the Nome Census Area in the Unorganized Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska, located on the southern Seward Peninsula coast on Norton Sound of the Bering Sea. According to the 2010 Census, the city population was 3,598. Nome was incorporated on April 9, 1901, and was once the...

 by dog sled
Dog sled
A dog sled is a sled pulled by one or more sled dogs used to travel over ice and through snow. Numerous types of sleds are used, depending on their function. They can be used for dog sled racing.-History:...

 to combat an outbreak of the disease. The run is commemorated by the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Balto was named after the Sami
Sami people
The Sami people, also spelled Sámi, or Saami, are the arctic indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. The Sámi are Europe’s northernmost...

 explorer Samuel Balto
Samuel Balto
Samuel Johannesen Balto was a Norwegian - Sami explorer and adventurer. The legendary sled dog Balto was named after Samuel Balto.-Biography:...

. Balto died at the age of 14.

1925 serum run

In January 1925, doctors realized that a potentially deadly diphtheria
Diphtheria
Diphtheria is an upper respiratory tract illness caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae, a facultative anaerobic, Gram-positive bacterium. It is characterized by sore throat, low fever, and an adherent membrane on the tonsils, pharynx, and/or nasal cavity...

 epidemic
Epidemic
In epidemiology, an epidemic , occurs when new cases of a certain disease, in a given human population, and during a given period, substantially exceed what is expected based on recent experience...

 was poised to sweep through Nome's young people. The only serum that could stop the outbreak was in Anchorage, nearly a thousand miles (1,600 km) away. The engine of the only aircraft that could quickly deliver the medicine was frozen and would not start. After considering all of the alternatives, officials decided to move the medicine by sled dog
Sled dog
Sled dogs, known also as sleigh man dogs, sledge dogs, or sleddogs, are highly trained types of dogs that are used to pull a dog sled, a wheel-less vehicle on runners also called a sled or sleigh, over snow or ice, by means of harnesses and lines.Sled dogs have become a popular winter recreation...

. The serum was transported by train from Anchorage to Nenana
Nenana, Alaska
Nenana is a Home Rule City in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area of the Unorganized Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska. Nenana lies at the juncture of the Nenana River and the Tanana River. The population was 402 at the 2000 census. "Nenana" means 'a good place to camp between two rivers.'-History...

, where the first musher
Mushing
Mushing is a general term for a sport or transport method powered by dogs, and includes carting, pulka, scootering, sled dog racing, skijoring, freighting, and weight pulling. More specifically, it implies the use of one or more dogs to pull a sled on snow or a rig on dry land...

 embarked as part of a relay aimed at delivering the needed serum to Nome. More than 20 mushers took part, facing a blizzard
Blizzard
A blizzard is a severe snowstorm characterized by strong winds. By definition, the difference between blizzard and a snowstorm is the strength of the wind. To be a blizzard, a snow storm must have winds in excess of with blowing or drifting snow which reduces visibility to 400 meters or ¼ mile or...

 with −23 °F temperatures and strong winds. Katie Pryor interviewed the musher after he had finished. News coverage of the race was worldwide.

On February 2, 1925, the Norwegian
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 Gunnar Kaasen
Gunnar Kaasen
Gunnar Kaasen was a Norwegian-born musher who delivered a cylinder containing 300,000 units of diphtheria antitoxin to Nome, Alaska, in 1925, as the last leg of a dog sled relay that saved the U.S. city from an epidemic....

 drove his team, led by Balto, into Nome. The longest and most hazardous stretch of the run was actually covered by another Norwegian, Leonhard Seppala
Leonhard Seppala
Leonhard Seppala was a Norwegian born American Sled dog racer who participated the 1932 Winter Olympics. Seppala is considered the founder of the Siberian Husky breed. -Background:...

 and his dog team, led by Togo
Togo (dog)
Togo was the sled dog who led Leonhard Seppala and his dog sled team as they covered the longest distance in the 1925 relay of diphtheria antitoxin from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, to combat an outbreak of the disease...

. They came from Nome towards the end of the run and picked up the serum from musher Henry Ivanoff. The serum was later passed to Kaasen.

Balto proved himself on the Iditarod trail, saving his team in the Topkok River. Balto was also able to stay on the trail in near whiteout
Whiteout (weather)
Whiteout is a weather condition in which visibility and contrast are severely reduced by snow or sand. The horizon disappears completely and there are no reference points at all, leaving the individual with a distorted orientation...

 conditions; Kaasen stated he could barely see his hand in front of his face. Balto's team did their leg of the run almost entirely in the dark. During a blizzard, Kaasen and his team missed the last sled dog team and had to take the medicine twice as far. At Nome, everybody wanted to thank Kaasen at first. He suggested giving fame to Balto as well.

Togo was the star dog for Leonhard Seppala even before the great 1925 Serum Run. Instead of celebrating the triumph together as one huge team, many became jealous of the publicity Balto received, especially from President Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

 and the press. Seppala favored Togo, but the general public loved the story behind Balto, and so they would take a far different path after the celebrations were over. Balto was not welcomed at the ceremony in New York in which Seppala and Togo received awards from the explorer Roald Amundsen
Roald Amundsen
Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen was a Norwegian explorer of polar regions. He led the first Antarctic expedition to reach the South Pole between 1910 and 1912 and he was the first person to reach both the North and South Poles. He is also known as the first to traverse the Northwest Passage....

.

Aftermath

After the mission's success, Balto and Kaasen became celebrities. A statue of Balto, sculpted by Frederick Roth
Frederick Roth
Frederick George Richard Roth was an American sculptor and animalier, well known for portraying living animals. The statue of the sled dog Balto in New York City's Central Park is perhaps his most famous piece.-Biography:...

, was erected in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

's Central Park
Central Park
Central Park is a public park in the center of Manhattan in New York City, United States. The park initially opened in 1857, on of city-owned land. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they entitled the Greensward Plan...

 on December 17, 1925, just 10 months after Balto's arrival in Nome. Balto himself was present for the monument's unveiling. The statue is located on the main path leading north from the Tisch Children's Zoo
Central Park Zoo
The Central Park Zoo is a small zoo located in Central Park in New York City. It is part of an integrated system of four zoos and the New York Aquarium managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society , and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums .The zoo began in the 1860s as a...

. In front of the statue a low-relief slate plaque depicts Balto's sled team, and bears the following inscription:
Balto was not destined to be a star in the breeding shed since he was neutered at a young age, hence he was relegated to being neglected on the vaudeville
Vaudeville
Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill...

 circuit with his team. While visiting Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

, George Kimble, a former prize fighter turned businessman from Cleveland, was shocked to discover the dogs were unhealthy and badly treated.

Mr. Kimble worked together with the newspaper, The Plain Dealer, to bring Balto and his team to Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

. On March 19, 1927, Balto and six companions were brought to Cleveland and given a hero's welcome in a triumphant parade. The dogs were then taken to the Brookside Zoo (now the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is a zoo in Cleveland, Ohio. The zoo is divided into several areas: the RainForest, the African Savanna, Northern Trek, the Australian Adventure, and the Primates, Cats, and Aquatics House. The Metroparks Zoo has one of the largest collections of primates in North...

).

After Balto's death in 1933, his remains were mounted by a taxidermist, and donated to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum located approximately five miles east of downtown Cleveland, Ohio in University Circle, a 550-acre concentration of educational, cultural and medical institutions...

. In 1998 the Alaska Legislature passed HJR 62- 'Bring Back Balto' resolution. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History declined to return Balto; however, in October 1998, Balto left for a five-month stay at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art
Anchorage Museum of History and Art
The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center is a museum located in downtown Anchorage in the U.S. state of Alaska. Beginning as a public-private partnership to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Alaska purchase, it opened in 1968 with an exhibition of 60 borrowed Alaska paintings and a collection...

 which drew record crowds.

On December 22, 1995, Universal Pictures
Universal Studios
Universal Pictures , a subsidiary of NBCUniversal, is one of the six major movie studios....

 released the live action/animated film Balto
Balto (film)
Balto is a 1995 American animated comedy-drama film directed by Simon Wells and produced by Amblimation, and the first of the overall trilogy. The film is based on a true story about the dog of the same name who helped save children from the diphtheria epidemic in the 1925 serum run to Nome...

. The film was loosely based on the events of the 1925 Serum Run.

External links

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