Clinic Stories

Dogs in Antarctica

How many dogs are there in Antarctica? Antarctica is 99% covered with ice and snow averaging 1 ½ miles thick. There are no completely land based animals, only birds, seals, and whales. There are only two flowering plants on the continent. Dogs were brought to Antarctica for exploration. Raold Amundsen used 97 dogs making the first trip to the South Pole in 1911. Robert Scott used ponies, arrived a few weeks later and his party died on the return. The Disney movie "Eight Below" tells a story of dogs left overwinter in Antarctica. In general dogs struggled in Antarctica because they work best in snow rather than the frigid icy conditions.

How many dogs are there on Antarctica today? None. The Antarctica Treaty banned dogs from the continent in 1991 for environmental reasons and they returned to their native countries.

Cats were occasionally brought along for companionship on Antarctic expeditions. On his famous expedition of 1914-1916, Ernest Shakleton took a male cat name Mrs. Chippy.

The first baby was born on Antarctica in 1978. The mother was flown from Argentina to deliver on a military base as a territorial claim.

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