6 Historical Figures With Highly Unusual Pets

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Humans crave companionship. Apparently, that also means that extraordinary humans crave extraordinary companionship. 

Me, I think a dog does just fine, but apparently a mere canine was too pedestrian for some of historys most famous figures. It does make sense that richer and more powerful people possess a greater ability to house exotic pets, given that such pets are generally pretty resource-intensive. Not to mention, nobody wants to come home from their job at the factory only to attempt to feed their pet grizzly bear without losing an arm.

The Coolidge Family: Rebecca the Raccoon

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Now, raccoons as pets arent entirely nonexistent, which I can personally vouch for by way of my Instagram follows. They are an absolute handful, however, given their dexterous little hands and propensity for mischief. The sort of thing youd think you wouldnt want to add to your plate as a sitting president, yet Calvin Coolidge did just that. 

By all accounts, it was exactly as chaotic as youd think, as the raccoon, named Rebecca, was a frequent escapee and had a side hobby of opening random jars. It seems to have been a curse of the bleeding heart, as the raccoon was originally sent to the Coolidges for the purpose of cooking and eating for Thanksgiving dinner by some well-meaning fans in Mississippi.

Thomas Jefferson: Grizzly Bears

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Whether grizzly bears can ever truly be considered a pet is up for debate. I think for something to earn that designation, it has to be motivated not to murder you by more than a cage. As such, Id describe them as “fascinating prisoners,” as opposed to a salve for loneliness. 

Thomas Jefferson came to the same conclusion rather quickly when he was gifted two grizzly bears from a man named Captain Zebulon Pike, who surprisingly, is not from the future. Jefferson passed them along to a museum, but for two months, they lived on the White House lawn, at first in a cage and then, inadvisably, left to wander as they saw fit.

Tycho Brahe: A Moose

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If you need some sort of eccentric tidbit about a historical figure, Tycho Brahe is always a good place to start. His choice of pet was no exception, as it had two unusual traits: first of all, it was a moose. Second of all, it was apparently an alcoholic

Brahes moose did reportedly have a strong attachment to Brahe, following him around during the days. It was at nights it put on the real show, since it loved beer, and Brahe would happily oblige it at dinner parties, where its subsequent drunken meandering and chaos would serve as amusement. Not shockingly, this ended in tragedy when the moose died after falling down a flight of stairs.

Audrey Hepburn: Pippin the Deer

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Audrey Hepburn was originally introduced to a young fawn named Pippin, nicknamed Ip, in service of her then-upcoming film, Green Mansions. They’d be sharing plenty of screen time, so the animal trainer floated the idea of Hepburn taking the deer home to bond with it, which she did. The deer cottoned to the star quickly, and must have been heartbroken when they were separated at the conclusion of the movies creation, and though she wouldnt admit it, Hepburn may have felt the same way. Later on, after a tragic miscarriage, her husband decided Hepburn could use Pippin back in their life, and they were reunited for the long haul.

Josephine Baker: Chiquita the Cheetah

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Now, Ive had to attempt to give medicine to a regular cat. The ordeal of corralling a cheetah and forcing antibiotics into it seems like a month-long endeavor. Something that famous multi-hyphenate entertainer Josephine Baker might have had some experience with, thanks to her pet cheetah, Chiquita. She loved Chiquita dearly, bringing it with her all over the world. Orchestras performing with her werent huge fans, however, mainly because during shows, Chiquita would be let free to roam, and perhaps nibble, in the orchestra pit.

Teddy Roosevelt: Bill the Hyena

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As always, Teddy Roosevelt has to top everyone elses insane stories. The Roosevelt family owned a veritable menagerie of animals over the years, but standing in a category of its own was their pet hyena, a scavenger and carrion-feeder with a famously harsh laugh and fierce personality. To say nothing of a hyena’s penchant for plotting coups to unseat those in authority, though Im admittedly pulling that mostly from The Lion King. 

This hyena’s name? Bill. Just Bill. Apparently, Roosevelt would even feed Bill table scraps, which is kind of its own, very civilized form of carrion.

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