The most common White House critters are dogs and cats. This may be in part because exotic animal menageries today require special permits and unique diets, housing, and care–but in the past these exotic critters lived as presidential pets.
When it comes to presidential pets there are a few that stand out from the crowd.
Some of the more unusual creatures collected by Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) were a pygmy hippo, raccoons, a bobcat, and a wallaby. (Photo at right: Grace Coolidge with pet raccoon. Note: They do NOT make god pets!)
Coolidge also thought has a few lion cubs to complete his zoo—but he was not the only one. Martin Van Buren received a couple of tiger cubs (1837-1841) and Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) kept large cats as part of his collection.
Theodore Roosevelt had a passion for the wild and so made sure that he had a zoo like collection with many animals including a zebra, several bears, a coyote, and a hyena.
Theodore took mercy on a bear cub during a 1902 Missouri hunting trip. Shortly after, an imaginative toy maker then came up with the “Teddy Bear” a stuffed animal that remains popular today.
But Teddy Roosevelt was not the only bear fan–Coolidge and Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) housed bruins as well.
Now it is rare to see birds or reptiles on the roster but John Quincy Adams (1825-1829) kept an alligator and William McKinley (1897-1901) and James Madison (1809-1817) each kept a parrot.
And the largest White House pet? Believe it or not James Buchanan (1857-1861) had elephants!
Horses, goats, sheep, cows, rabbits, bald eagles, guinea pigs, a snake, and a variety of other animals graced the grounds of the presidential palace, too.
Now we know that the Obama family will be bringing a puppy in to the White House but I have to ask…
What is your favorite presidential pet? Leave a comment below.