The Barbaro effect

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Mar 01, 2007

Barbaro's eight-month stay at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's New Bolton Center had a dramatic effect on the work environment at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals and other school facilities. Part of that effect, particularly e-mails and hits on the school's Web site, is continuing.

Here are some facts:

  • The Barbaro Fund stood at $1.1 million during the first week of February.
  • The school's Laminitis Fund stands at just over $200,000. (For information on both funds, visit the school Web site, http://www.vet.upenn.edu/.
  • The Barbaro page on the school's Web site (had about 60,000 hits on Jan. 29, the day the horse was put down. It had 13,000 hits the day before. It averaged 5,000 to 6,000 hits per day prior to Jan. 28.
  • Before Barbaro was hospitalized at New Bolton Center last May, Penn Vet's home page received about 1,000 views per day.
  • The Barbaro online message board had 27,000 page views on Jan. 29 alone.
  • The school's Social Work Department at Ryan Veterinary Hospital was established to address the needs of pet owners suffering the loss of a companion animal, one of the first programs of its kind in a veterinary hospital setting to recognize the importance of pet loss and the human-animal bond. The department posted a link on the Barbaro page on Jan. 29 and counted more than 11,000 page views that day. Before Jan. 29, it averaged 2 views per day.
  • Gifts: New Bolton Center received a daily stream of gift baskets, cards and other items from well-wishers throughout Barbaro's stay and after his passing. These, along with messages, came from as far away as Spain, Canada, Mexico and Australia. "We constantly had Barbaro fans sending pizza, doughnuts, cookies and other food items for the New Bolton Staff," says Jennifer Rench, communications and marketing specialist for the school. "During the holidays, fans sent Barbaro and the staff a Christmas tree with hand-painted glass ornaments that had each donor's name on it and where they were from."
  • Media: On Jan. 29, "every major network and newspaper were present," Rench says, adding that "The news media remained a constant during Barbaro's stay. We received hundreds of requests for interviews. Dr. Richardson did interviews on a daily basis."
  • Penn Vet posted 67 official updates on Barbaro's condition between May 22, 2006, and Jan. 29, 2007.
  • Breyer Animal Creations donated proceeds from the sale of the Barbaro model horse to the Barbaro Fund. On Dec. 14, the company presented a check for $114,710.