Fun Fact Friday: Presidential Pets

Socks at the White House

Socks on the White House South Lawn

When it comes to presidential pets, most people have heard of Socks the cat, or Bo the dog, but did you know that Herbert Hoover had pet alligators at the White House? It’s true! Hoover’s son Allan had a pair of them, and reportedly they were free to roam the White House grounds.

There have been many surprising pets to call the presidential residence home. George Washington had a donkey named Royal Gift. At one point Thomas Jefferson had a pair of bear cubs. John Quincy Adams kept silkworms. Martin Van Buren owned a pair of tiger cubs, but only briefly (much like Jefferson), since little tigers grow up to be big tigers!

Some particularly amusing examples are William Henry Harrison, who had a pet cow named Sukey (along with a goat) and James Buchanan, who was given a herd of elephants by the King of Siam (now Thailand) and kept one at the White House. Theodore Roosevelt had over 25 pets during the course of his presidency, the oddest probably being a lizard named Bill, and a guinea pig named Fighting Bob Evans.

Abraham Lincoln had a variety of pets (including a turkey), but was particularly enamored of his cats, Dixie and Tabby. In a moment of frustration during his first term, Lincoln was quoted as saying “Dixie is smarter than my whole cabinet! And furthermore she doesn’t talk back!”

Want to learn more about presidential pets? You can see a full list here.


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