Foot and Mouth Disease Memorial – London

A rather unique memorial to some of the many victims of human excess and folly can be found humbly tucked away in a small garden along the Thames Path near The Cutty Sark Tavern in Greenwich:

The memorial goat to foot and mouth hysteria in the United Kingdom

If you are not able to make out the text on the marker for some reason, it reads as follows:

In memory of the uncounted millions of animals who died not of foot and mouth but of the cure for foot and mouth

In fact, during the most recent foot and mouth hysteria of 2001, they were counted – 3,992,000 of them: 3,248,000 sheep, 598,000 cattle, 142,000 pigs, 2,000 goats and 1,000 deer were slaughtered based on the idea that if all of the potential victims of foot and mouth disease were dead, that there would be no creature left to contract the disease.

It’s like the infamous quote from the Vietnam War:

“In order to save the village, we had to destroy it.”

Except in this case, it is:

“In order to save the animals, we had to kill them.”

The infection was “slaughtered out” – the exact terminology used by the British government in describing its solution for eradication of foot and mouth disease.

However, during this entire period, a total of only 2,030 cases of foot and mouth disease were discovered.

The bodies of the millions of animals were pushed into massive piles and burned for months on end – the smoke filling the sky by day and the flames lighting up the night…

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