7 Strange Pets Our Past US Presidents Owned

7 Strange Pets Our Past US Presidents Owned

Politics can be a real zoo!

It has become a tradition for the president to have a pet dog in the oval office. These adorable dogs have been as big a part of the First Family as their human counterparts. But before this furry form of friendship came to be, our presidents had some rather interesting animal advisers. So here are the top seven strangest pets our presidents have owned:

1. Washington and Jackson - Parrots

While George Washington was the true first American and had a fondness for dogs, his wife, Martha, was more of a bird gal. She had a green parrot that she named Snipe (or, in some historical cases, Polly). Later in life, she also had a cockatoo!

Andrew Jackson’s parrot, Poll, had a potty mouth like no other. He bought the African grey parrot for his wife, Rachel Jackson, but ended up taking care of the bird under his wing after her death. Because of the president’s foul language, Poll was known to have very colorful language. It even got kicked out of Jackson’s funeral for cursing during the ceremony!

A few other presidents had parrots as well. Some of them include James Madison, Ulysses S. Grant, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

2. Thomas Jefferson - Mockingbird

Following the bird trend, Thomas Jefferson had a Mockingbird. Several actually. But his favorite one was named Dick. Jefferson actually owned so many mockingbirds, that some of them escaped, and now are a permanent part of the wildlife in Monticello, his mountaintop home. Before Jefferson, mockingbirds

Jefferson was also in possession of two bear cubs. They were a gift to him, but he decided they were too dangerous to keep at the White House, so he donated them to a museum.

3. Woodrow Wilson - Sheep

During World War I, Woodrow Wilson expressed a profound act of homefront support for the troops, by keeping a herd of sheep at the White House with him and his family. The sheep ate the grass. They earned over $52,000 for the Red Cross by selling their wool. How cool would it be to have a shirt made out of the wool of a presidential sheep?!

Unfortunately, the sheep were scared of the first automobiles that drove by the White House, and they ate all the grass on the lawns. Eventually, Wilson decided to “retire from the sheep business”.

Thomas Jefferson also kept a herd of sheep at the White House. They would keep people from trespassing on the lawn.

4. Mrs. Louisa Adams - Silkworms

Wife of John Quincy Adams, Louisa was not fond of being First Lady. Before there was even a thought about Women’s Rights or equality, Louisa found herself as a bit of a puppet for her husband’s political career. She found refuge and companionship in the way many people do; by getting a pet. Only, her form of pet was a little wormier than others.

Louisa Adams very much enjoyed raising her own silkworms. She took care of them and even harvested their silk by herself. She would then use that silk for her sewings. Louisa owned “several hundred” silkworms that she kept in the White House with her.

5. Teddy and Calvin’s Literal Zoos

Both Theodore Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge kept a zoo-full of animals at the White House. Teddy’s array of animals included: an angry badger, various kinds of birds, snakes, a bear, five dogs, five guinea pigs, ten horses, and a pony!

Meanwhile, Calvin’s animals were: a goose, a donkey, a cat, two lion cubs, an antelope, a wallaby, six dogs, and a pygmy hippo named Billy. Billy the hippo ended up being donated to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, and would soon become the ancestor of many pygmy hippos in the zoos you visit.

All those animals in the White House - imagine the smell!

6. John Quincy Adams - Alligator

Good old JQA had a pet alligator that was gifted to him by the Marquis de Lafayette, an old family friend. It lived in one of the bathrooms in the White House, and Adams would enjoy using the reptile to scare unsuspecting politicians.

And then, what is the strangest pet to roam the White House? Which animal has the reigning title of the best beautiful beast? Who owned such a unique creature?

7. James Buchanan - Elephant

James Buchanan had the biggest dog of any presidents; a 170-pound Newfoundland named Lara. But Lara must’ve felt pretty small next to the herd of elephants that were gifted to the president by the king of Siam. The president did give the elephants over to a zoo. Buchanan was also the only president to never marry, which makes sense because I don’t know any First Lady that wouldn’t address the elephant in the room.

And those are the strangest residents that have stayed in the White House. Maybe one day our future presidents will bring another exotic pet with them on their campaigns and this list can grow even longer. Until then, there’s nothing wrong with dogs.

Cover Image Credit: Presidential Pet Museum

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.


Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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8 Reasons You Should Focus On Social Media Marketing

The social media wave isn't ending anytime soon. And your business should take advantage of it if you want it to survive.


If you're a business owner, chances are you've already considered using social media marketing to help get the word out about your business.

In fact, 82 percent of small business owners are using sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram to help grow their businesses. And if you are still standing on the social sidelines, there's never been a better time to get started.

Here are 10 reasons why social media marketing could be right for your business.

1. Social media helps get the word out

First and foremost — social media does, in fact, help get the word out about your business.

But even more important than the exposure, it provides you with the opportunity to grow relationships with your target audience. Your fans, followers, and connections are people who know your organization, have likely done business with you in the past, and will be most likely tell their friends about you.

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2. Social media is popular — really, really, popular

You don't need to be a dedicated reader of tech blogs or an expert in online marketing to know that social media is really popular among consumers.

According to the Pew Research Center, 65 percent of American adults use social networks , which means that social media will touch nearly every customer that walks through your door.

For most small businesses,Facebook — which has 1.7 billion monthly active users — is the jumping-off point for getting started with social media marketing.

With its extensive reach and dynamic functionality, there are very few businesses that couldn't benefit from having a presence on Facebook. And starting there will make it easier when you want to try something new.

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3. Social media is cost-effective

As more social networks add algorithms that filter what users see in their news feeds, your organic content may get lost in the shuffle. Take advantage of the low-cost advertising features offered by the social networks to promote your content and special offers.

Most social media advertising is cheaper than traditional advertising, so you don't have to spend a lot of money to reach more people, increase your audience, and grow your business.

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4. Social media reaches all ages and demographics

Social media defies age barriers. A 2015 Pew Research Center study found that 65 percent of US adults are using social networks.

Between 2005 and 2015, usage among ages 30-49 has increased by 69 points from 8 percent to 77 percent. So, no matter how young or old your target audience may be, chances are most of them are already logging on and waiting for you to get started.


5. Social media encourages two-way communication

Social media gives you the power to learn more about your audience, their interests, and collect feedback.

Ask your customers to share their thoughts, questions, and ideas to get to know them better. You can respond just as fast, without having to pick up the phone or worry the customer isn't seeing your response.

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6. Social media users are active

One thing you have to know about social media users is that when they say they are on social media, they are really on social media.

Social media users in the US check their accounts 17 times a day, according to an Informate Mobile Intelligence report. While a customer may visit your store once a week, they could see your social media posts in their feed multiple times during the week.


7. Social media lets you share A LOT about your business

Social media sites are becoming the go-to place for consumers who want to learn more about a business. That's because these sites allow businesses to offer the most up-to-date information about anything from products, services, or upcoming events.

Also, much of your activity and profiles on social media sites can be made public, meaning they can be indexed by search engines — one more way to make sure your business or organization comes up as the answer when someone is searching for a solution to a problem.


8. Social media is everywhere

Today, more than half of all Americans are smartphone users and more and more businesses are offering mobile-friendly experiences. The benefit of the increased presence of mobile activity in our daily lives is huge for small businesses.

Most major social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, offer free mobile apps that let business owners manage their presence on-the-go.

More importantly, these apps let customers connect to their favorite sites wherever they are. These users aren't just sharing updates from their own lives, they're searching for businesses, products, and services, and connecting with brands through their social channels.

Having a social media presence that's accessible via mobile can improve the chances of your business getting found when someone is searching for a place to eat or a product to buy, while on-the-go.


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