Published: Tue 4 Feb 2014

On Sunday 23 February the Australian War Memorial will be holding a special event, Of animals in war, to commemorate the role animals have played in support of Australia’s war efforts. The all-day family event will be an opportunity for those who have respect for the invaluable contributions of animals in Australia’s military history to honour those that served, suffered, and died alongside our soldiers.

Of animals in war will begin at 9.30 am with a commemorative ceremony, including:

  • A welcome by the Director of the Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson;
  • An overview of the significant role animals have played in Australia’s military history by renowned animal trainer and behavioural advisor, Nigel Allsopp;
  • A selection of moving songs relating to the sacrifice of war animals, as performed by award-winning country musician and equestrian Tania Kernaghan;
  • Insightful stories told by the School of Military Engineering regarding the practical and vital support of Explosive Detection Dogs (EDD) in Afghanistan;
  • A reading from acclaimed author, Anthony Hill;
  • A chaplain’s blessing; and
  • A wreathlaying ceremony.

A tribute wall of emotive war photography drawn from the Memorial’s National Collection and the Department of Defence will be displayed as a backdrop to the commemorative ceremony in order to encapsulate the practical and psychological roles animals have played in war.

Following the ceremony, a range of outdoor family-friendly activities and market stalls will take place in the Sculpture Garden of the Memorial. There will be demonstrations conducted by the School of Military Engineering and their EDDs, including a visit from retired EDD Sarbi, the RSPCA Purple Cross recipient who spent nearly 14 months missing in action after being separated from her handler in Afghanistan in September 2009.

An event for all ages, Of animals in war will include other key indoor and outdoor activities such as talks from the Australian Light Horse Association and the Canberra Racing Pigeon Combine, which will also release pigeons from Memorial grounds. There will be a range of informative and engaging public programs for the family, including art and craft, and story time.

The special event will be marked by a unique Last Post Ceremony. The School of Military Engineering will have their Explosive Detection Dogs lining the Pool of Reflection in honour of Sapper Darren Smith, 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment, and his Explosive Detection Dog, Herbie. Both Smith and Herbie were killed in action in Afghanistan in June 2010. The Last Post Ceremony is streamed daily online at

Join the Memorial at this special event to remember the service and sacrifice of all animals that have worked alongside Australians in support of our war efforts.

For more information, please visit

*Visitors are invited to bring along their furry friends for the outdoor component of the event.

What: Of animals in war all-day family event at the Australian War Memorial


  • Outdoor displays and activities: 9.00 am – 2.00 pm, Sculpture Garden
  • Commemorative ceremony: 9.30 am – 10.30 am, Simpson and his donkey, 1915
  • Indoor talks: 10.00 am – 4.15 pm, Courtyard Gallery and Galleries
  • Last Post Ceremony: 4.55 pm – 5.10 pm, Commemorative Area


  • Sunday 23 February 2014


  • Dr Brendan Nelson, Director, Australian War Memorial
  • Nigel Allsopp, author, animal trainer, and behavioural advisor
  • Tania Kernaghan, Australian country musician
  • Anthony Hill, Australian author
  • School of Military Engineering with their EDDs
  • Australian Light Horse Association
  • Canberra Racing Pigeon Combine


For further information or interview requests for Dr Brendan Nelson or Tania Kernaghan, please contact:

Moj Nozhat                  (02) 6243 4575                

General information

  • Members of the general public are welcome to bring their own seats or rugs; limited seating will be available on the day
  • The Memorial encourages responsible pet ownership; please ensure you bring along the necessary equipment (e.g. leads, muzzles, appropriate pooper scoopers etc.) to keep your pet social and safe and to keep the grounds clean for all to enjoy
  • The Memorial will have a number of water stations available for pets
  • Food and beverage will be available for purchase from the Terrace Café

Media backgrounders are available in the PDF below or on the Media backgrounders: of animals in war page

PDF icon Media alert - Of animals in war event374.56 KB