Cats, dogs, fish, rodents, and ponies – these are the animals that come to mind when you think of a pet. Braver and more eccentric individuals might even go as far as keeping more exotic animals as pets, like tarantulas, snakes, and scorpions. This is not unheard of today – not at all. We’ve even heard of pet pigs, miniature donkeys, and goats kept for amusement and companionship. But when the owner is an eccentric president and the place the pets are held is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC, things are a bit stranger. Here are some of the wildest (literally) American presidential pets that have kept in the White House throughout history.
Strange Presidential Pets Raising Eyebrows Across History
James Buchanan’s Eagles
The King of Siam expressed his admiration for the 15th American president, James Buchanan, by offering him a herd of elephants as a present. Buchanan accepted and, since there probably wasn’t enough room for an entire herd at the White House, he only kept one of them around. But when it comes to eagles, he wasn’t this restrained: he kept a pair of America’s national bird on hand at all times. The eagles are said to have been a gift as well, from one of Buchanan’s friends from San Francisco. As the White House wasn’t the perfect spot for them to live, Buchanan ultimately sent them away to his home in Wheatland, Lancaster, where they lived happily ever after.
Presidential pets often turn out to be gifts from friends and admirers – this was the case of the alligator John Quincy Adams kept at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The 6th president of the United States received this unlikely pet from Marquis de Lafayette, one of his huge fans. Since the White House didn’t have a pool at the time, so Adams kept it in the bathtub in the East Room. Legend has it that he found pleasure in directing his guests to that specific bathroom repeatedly, and listening to them scream in horror!
Of course, this story might be bogus, and the alligator might have been a crocodile… but if it’s true, we can take pride in knowing that we had a president with a sick sense of humor.
Theodore Roosevelt has gone down in history not only as a statesman and president but also as the president with the largest collection of pets in the White House. According to the National Parks Service website, his children’s collection of pets consisted of “a small bear named Jonathan Edwards; a lizard named Bill; guinea pigs named Admiral Dewey, Dr. Johnson, Bishop Doane, Fighting Bob Evans, and Father O’Grady; Maude the pig; Josiah the badger; Eli Yale the blue macaw; Baron Spreckle the hen; a one-legged rooster; a hyena; a barn owl; Peter the rabbit; and Algonquin the pony,” along with several dogs, snakes, and other animals.