Wild kingdom? No, it's just the 'first family' of pets

As Americans wait for big news out of Washington – namely, what breed of dog the Obamas will get, a Labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound – they may wonder about the history of presidential pets. Since Warren Harding's term (1921-23), every occupant of the Oval Office has had at least one dog or cat. But presidents haven't limited themselves to such traditional pets, and, especially in more pastoral times, chief executives kept a menagerie more suited to a zoo than to the West Wing of the White House. Take, for example, James Buchanan's pet elephant, Andrew Johnson's white mice, or the alligators and silkworms favored by John Quincy Adams. As for the most curious pets, here are the Top 10 as selected by Anne Kostuchik of the Strange Pet News Examiner, with the presidents who kept them (although not necessarily in the first family's living quarters):

  • 1. Pygmy hippo Calvin Coolidge
  • 2. Alligator John Quincy Adams
  • 3. Elephant James Buchanan
  • 4. Zebra Theodore Roosevelt
  • 5. Antelope Calvin Coolidge
  • 6. BearsThomas JeffersonTheodore RooseveltCalvin Coolidge
  • 7. Coyote Theodore Roosevelt
  • 8. Hyena Theodore Roosevelt
  • 9. Tigers or lionsMartin Van BurenTheodore Roosevelt Calvin Coolidge
  • 10. Wallaby Calvin Coolidge
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