The Strange Pets of Famous People in History

Many famous historical figures have had well-known animal companions. President Franklin Roosevelt’s dog Fala was so important to him that there is a statue of him at his Washington, D.C. memorial. Many of us know about the current Queen Elizabeth’s Corgis. The Roman Emperor Caligula loved his horse, Incitatus, so much that he may have tried to have him appointed to political office. These animals were famous, but at least they were typical pets. Some historical figures had pets that most of us would not consider to be suitable domestic pets. Here are just a few of the more outlandish pets in history.

John Quincy Adams’ Alligator

America’s fifth president received this unusual pet as a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette, a Revolutionary War hero. Instead of finding a suitable home for the animal, Adams decided to keep the alligator in an unfinished area of the White House. Sometimes, the reptile would hang out in a bathtub. Adams was quite proud of his strange pet, and enjoyed showing him off to visitors. After several months, though, the gator was moved out of the White House.

adelaidezoo.com.au
adelaidezoo.com.au

Lucius Licinius Crassus’ Eel

 This famous Roman orator and statesman kept a beloved pet eel. He reportedly adorned this strange pet with earrings and necklaces, and trained it to respond to its name. When the eel died, he had a funeral for it, where he wept openly.

Babou, Salvador Dali’s Ocelot

Dali was known for being an eccentric artist, but one of the strangest things he did was to keep an ocelot, a wild cat, as a pet. He took the animal everywhere, including high-end restaurants and luxury cruises. The cat lived in an atmosphere of opulence, reclining on silk cushions and wearing elaborate stone-studded collars. But Babou may not have been happy, as he once escaped while Dali was staying at the sumptuous Hotel Meurice in Paris, frightening many guests in his attempt to flee.

Josephine Bonaparte’s Orangutan

Napoleon’s first wife had many exotic pets, but one of her favorites was Rose, her pet orangutan. The ape would often join Josephine at the table for meals, and reportedly loved to eat turnips. Rose was said to be very well-behaved and was even well-dressed: she was usually dressed in a fine white cotton chemise. Unfortunately, the poor animal had difficulty physically adjusting to life in a French palace. She developed a severe intestinal within a year of her arrival in France, and the illness ultimately killed her. The mourning Empress donated the orangutan’s body to science.

King George I’s Controversial Pet

Although not an animal, England’s King George I kept a feral child as a pet. The child was found living alone in the woods in Germany, living off whatever he could forage. He was sent to Kensington Palace, where the king initially tried to treat him as a guest. The boy, now called “Peter the Wild Boy,” embarrassed King George with his lack of table manners, and was thereafter treated more like a pet. Peter never learned to speak, and he always walked on all fours. When the king tired of him, his daughter-in-law took him in for a time. He died at 72, after being retired to a farm with a royal pension. Though he was said to be treated well, it is fortunate that the idea of keeping a human as a pet is abhorrent to us today.

Next Article
ADVERTISEMENT
  • Missing Couple Found Frozen After 75 Years

    On August 15, 1942 Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin, a Swiss married couple who were also parents to seven children, walked up to a mountain pasture near Chandolin, Switzerland to feed their cows. This was a rare excursion for the couple to take together, since Francine was often pregnant and could not usually make the climb....

    Read More
  • 27 Contact Lenses Found Lodged in One Woman’s Eye

    The biggest nightmare for wearers of contact lenses came true for one British woman late last year. The 67-year-old went in for cataract surgery at Solihull Hospital in England last November. In addition to the cataracts, she also complained of pain in her right eye, which she assumed was caused by dry eyes or old...

    Read More
  • Was Jane Austen Poisoned?

    In July of 1817, popular novelist Jane Austen died. This writer of such perennial favorites as Pride and Prejudice and Emma was only 41, and she did not have a history of health problems. As medical science was not very advanced in the 1800s, no one knows what killed her, though Addison’s disease and lymphoma...

    Read More
  • The Man Who Tried to Raise the Perfect Wife

    Finding a wife was difficult in the 18th century. There was no online dating, and strict social controls made it difficult for members of the opposite sex to get to know one another. But things were especially hard for a man named Thomas Day, and he came up with a novel, though cruel, way to...

    Read More
  • Giant Iceberg Breaks Free in Antarctica

    Sometime between July 10th and July 12th, a giant iceberg broke free from Antarctica, wreaking havoc on shipping lanes in the area while it breaks up into smaller pieces. It broke off from the Larsen C Ice Shelf, automatically reducing that shelf’s area by 12% when it did so. Larsen C is now at its...

    Read More
  • The Worst Husband in British History

    By all accounts, Mary Eleanor Bowes should have had a happy life. She was born into one of the wealthiest families in England, as her father was the wealthy mine owner George Bowes. She was an only child, and she was much cherished by her parents. However, when her father unexpectedly died in 1760 when...

    Read More
  • The Papin Sisters and France’s Most Gruesome Murder Case

    Life seemed to be against the Papin sisters, Christine and Lea, from the time of their births, in 1905 and 1911 respectively. They were born into a highly dysfunctional family. Their mother reportedly had affairs, and their father was an abusive alcoholic. Their mother never showed them any affection, and was so mentally unstable that...

    Read More
  • The Legend of Spring-Heeled Jack

    Despite the many advances in science and industry that took place in Victorian England, that time period was till full of superstition and paranormal belief. Many people still believed in fairies, phrenology and spiritualism- all things that have since been proven false. Quite a few people also believed in a devil-man called Spring-Heeled Jack. The...

    Read More