Inspired by my new Tours with Paws canine services, here's a brief rundown of some of Edinburgh's more unusual, and interesting, animal-related sites and attractions...
The legendary dog who remained faithful even after his master's death - returning to his grave every evening for 14 years - is commemorated with both a public statue at the head of Candlemaker Row, across from the National Museum of Scotland, and a decorative grave stone, marking his final resting place in the churchyard of Greyfriars Kirk, where his master is also buried. You can also view Bobby's collar and water bowl in the Museum of Edinburgh, on the Canongate section of the Royal Mile...
Continuing with the dead dog theme, inside Edinburgh Castle you can view the Dog's Cemetery where mascots of regiments stationed at the Castle have been buried. Also on display in the National War Museum (free entry with your Castle entrance ticket) is another military mascot, awarded full military honours for bravery in action, before his death and subsequent preservation and stuffing by a sympathetic taxidermist....
Dolly the Sheep
The world's first genetically cloned animal was created at the Rosslyn Institute outside of Edinburgh. Her name was Dolly, cloned from the mammary glands of a sheep that had died some time previously. Today Dolly herself can be seen in the National Museum of Scotland, stuffed for posterity, as well as your viewing pleasure.
Pandas Pandas Pandas!
On loan to Scotland from China, Edinburgh Zoo is home to two giant pandas - Tian Tian and Yan Guang have been known to sleep up to 16 hours a day, unlike the zoo's other attractions, such as their chimpanzees or their penguins. Book your panda-tastic viewing slot with your entry ticket.
Recovered from the bed of the river Almond at Cramond in 1997, the Cramond Lioness is a Roman-era sculpture that originally stood in the nearby Roman fort. Today the lioness is on display in the National Museum of Scotland, which also boasts a truly eye-popping gallery of exhibits from the natural world, preserved and presented in an engaging and informative display - don't miss the t-rex skeleton, swimming hippo and giraffe cheekily poking its blue tongue out!
For more beastial highlights - including elephants on the Castle Esplanade, the last cow on the Cowgate and rare sightings of Scotland's national animal (the unicorn!) - book an Up-Close and Personal Tour of the city, with my canine co-guide, French bulldog Monty, available on request!
Edinburgh Expert Walking Tours is run by Gareth Davies, an adopted native of Edinburgh with 19 years of experience living and working in the city...