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The U.S. White House

Other White House Critters

George Washington – President from April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1797

In addition to his dogs, President Washington had horses that were used in the American War of Independence:  Samson, Steady, Leonidas, Traveller, Magnolia; and stallions Nelson and Blueskin.  

The president’s wife, Martha, had a parrot named Polly.  In fact, the Washingtons had quite a few birdies.

Nellie Custis, George and Martha’s granddaughter, had her own horse, Rozinante, as well as a parrot. 

Check out my post Canines – Real Dogs – in the White House (https://wetnosecentral.com/canines-in-the-white-house/).

John Adams – President March 4, 1797 to March 4, 1801

The Adamses had several residents in the new stables, one of which was Cleopatra, said to be the president’s favorite horse.  Cleopatra and another horse named Caesar are said to have pulled President Adams’ carriage to his inauguration. 

Thomas Jefferson – President from March 4, 1801 to March 4, 1809

Thomas Jefferson’s pet preference was the Mockingbird.  He had several, so you might say he had a passion for them.  However, Dick is the only one he calls by name.  Likely, Dick was his favorite.  It is probable that Jefferson was the first President who had a pet that lived in the White House. 

Dick had free range of the residence, and sang along when the President played his violin. 

In October 1807, Capt. Zebulon Pike sent him a pair of Grizzly Bear cubs, a male and a female. 

In a letter to his granddaughter, the President said the bears were “too dangerous” to keep, and that he was sending them to Peale’s Museum in Philadelphia.  The hitch?  The bears had to stay in D.C. for two months, where they lived in an enclosure on the front lawn – in public view. 

James Madison – President from March 4, 1809 to March 4, 1817

James and Dolley Madison had a Macaw Parrot named Polly.  The First Lady allowed the parrot to perch on her shoulder as she greeted people in the Reception Room at the White House, and she used Polly to spark conversations with timid visitors.

John Quincy Adams – President from March 4, 1825 to March 4, 1829 

During 1824 and 1825, Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette toured the States.  While visiting John Quincy Adams and his First Lady, Lafayette re-gifted them with an alligator someone had given him. 

The Adamses lodged the alligator in a bathtub in the as yet unfinished East Wing of the White House.  (Where else, right?) 

It’s reported that the reptile resided at the White House for several months before being moved.  During that time, John Quincy apparently got a kick out of displaying the terrifying creature to visitors who didn’t believe the “pet” was there. 

Andrew Jackson – President from March 4, 1829 to March 4, 1837 

Andrew Jackson had a white stallion (a gift from the City of Philadelphia) named Sam Patch (after a daredevil who leaped from Niagara Falls into the Niagara River), a racehorse named Thruxton,  racing fillies named Emily, Lady Nashville and Bolivia, as well as a parrot name Poll that was taught to swear. 

Martin Van Buren – President from March 4, 1837 to March 4, 1841

The Sultan of Oman, Kabul al Said, gave President Martin Van Buren a pair of tiger cubs.  Even though the President was delighted, Congress had them confiscated and sent to a zoo. 

William Henry Harrison – President from March 4, 1841 to April 4, 1841 

William Henry Harrison and his family moved into the White House on March 4, 1841.  They brought with them Sukey, a Durham cow.  After the President died one month later, on April 4, 1841 of septic shock from enteric fever, Sukey likely stayed with Mrs. Harrison and their 10 children.  Some sites indicated they also had a Billy goat. 

John Tyler – President from April 6, 1841 to March 4, 1845 

John Tyler had a horse called The General, and Johnny Ty, a canary.  Johnny Ty died after they tried to mate him with another canary – another male. 

Zachary Taylor – President from April 6, 1849 to March 4, 1850 

Zachary Taylor had a horse called Old Whitey and a former circus pony named Apollo.

Millard Fillmore – President from April 6, 1850 to March 4, 1853 

Millard Fillmore had two ponies, named Mason and Dixon.

Franklin Pierce – President from April 6, 1853 to March 4, 1857 

President Pierce had two birds from Japan. 

James Buchanan – President from April 6, 1857 to March 4, 1861 

James Buchanan’s “pets” were a pair of Bald Eagles.

Abraham Lincoln – President from April 6, 1861 to April 14, 1865 

Abraham Lincoln’s pets included ponies that belonged to Tad and Willy Lincoln; white rabbits, a couple of goats that were called Nanny and Nanko; Tad’s turkey, Jack; Tabby and Dixie (cats). 

Hiram Ulysses Grant – President from April 6, 1869 to April 14, 1877 

Ulysses S. Grant’s family had horses named Jeff Davis, Cincinnatus, Butcher Boy, and Egypt and St. Louis (carriage horses), Julia (race horse), Reb and Billy Button (Shetland ponies).  Jennie and Mary were Nellie Grant’s mares.  There were also a parrot and Jesse Grant’s Gamecocks. 

Ulysses S. Grant

Rutherford B. Hayes – President from April 6, 1877 to April 14, 1881 

Rutherford B. Hayes is the first President to ever have a Siamese kitten (Siam) and another Siamese named Miss Pussy and another cat named Piccolomini; a goat, a Mockingbird, four Canaries, Jersey Cows (pedigreed) and several carriage horses. 

James Garfield – President from March 4, 1881 to March 4, 1881 

James Garfield’s daughter, Mary (called Mollie), had a brown mare named Kit.  Prior to her father becoming President, 14-year-old Mollie rode Kit all the time.  She rode side-saddle (proper for the time).  One day a stable hand had failed to tighten the girth.  During her ride, the saddle started to slip.  This startled Kit.  The horse bolted.  Mollie’s foot was caught in the stirrup and she was dragged behind.  She did not ride again. 

Even so, when the family moved to Washington, they brought Kit with them.

Chester Alan Arthur – President from September 20, 1881 to March 4, 1885 

Chester A. Arthur had two beautiful, perfectly matched reddish-brown horses.

Grover Cleveland – President from March 4, 1885 to March 4, 1889.

Grover Cleveland had Canaries and Mockingbirds, ponies, hundreds of imported fish (including Japanese Goldfish and Paradise Fish) and Shawlneck Game Chickens.

Benjamin Harrison – President from March 4, 1889 to March 4, 1893 

Benjamin Harrison’s other pets included (his grandchildren’s) Billy Goat named Old Whiskers and two Opossums named Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection.

Grover Cleveland – President from March 4, 1893 to March 4, 1897.

See his “critters” above.

William McKinley – President from March 4, 1897 to September 14, 1901 

William and Ida McKinley had Washington Post (a Mexican double-yellow-headed Parrot), who greeted visitors to the WH and whistled “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”  There are “rumors” that they also had two Angora kittens named Valeriano Weyler and Enrique DeLome, but no “yea” or “nay” proof.  They also had a number of unnamed Roosters.

Theodore Roosevelt – President from September 14, 1901 to March 4, 1909 

Every kind of creature lived in the Teddy Roosevelt White House.  In addition to the dogs, literally, the menagerie of Teddy Roosevelt included the following: 

Bleistein, his favorite steed; other horses were Renown, Roswell, Rusty, Jocko Root, Grey Dawn, Wyoming and Yagenka; carriage horses:  General and Judge; Archie Roosevelt’s Shetland pony, Algonquin (Archie was TR’s son). 

Then there were reptiles:  Emily Spinach was a snake that belonged to Alice (TR’s oldest child); an assortment of serpents belonging to Quentin (TR’s youngest son).

Eli Yale was a Hyacinth macaw that belonged to Quentin. 

Tom Quartz and Slippers were cats. 

They had a badger named Josiah, Peter, the rabbit, two Kangaroo Rats, a Flying Squirrel, Admiral Dewey, Dr. Johnson, Bob Evans, Bishop Doan and Father O’Grady (the Guinea pigs). 

But, WAIT!  There’s more! 

If your taste is for wilder beasts, there were also a Lion, a Hyena, a Wildcat, a Coyote, a Zebra, and five Bears.  For the less faint of heart, a Barn Owl, Roosters, a Hen, and a Pig.  Where do two Parrots, a Lizard, and a Raccoon fit in? 

Golden brown, male lion with full mane.

Hope I didn’t leave anything out! 

William Howard Taft– President from March 4, 1909 to March 4, 1913 

After Teddy Roosevelt’s assortment of wild beasts, every kind of creature extends to William Howard Taft’s cows, Mooly Wooly and Pauline Wayne, although they were a return to relative normalcy. 

The first was Mooly Wooly, who, for over a year, provided milk for the family, until she suddenly died in 1910.  Mooly Wooly was replaced by Pauline Wayne, who was often referred to as “Miss Wayne.” 

Miss Wayne freely grazed the White House lawn and provided milk for the family from 1910 to 1913.  Pauline “was considered as much a Taft family pet as she was livestock,” and was shipped to Wisconsin when Taft left office. 

Thomas Woodrow Wilson– President from March 4, 1913 to March 4, 1921 

Inside and outside the Woodrow Wilson White House, there was animal life:  Old Ike (a Shropshire Ram that chewed tobacco), Mittens and Puffins (Cats), Songbirds, and 48 Sheep that grazed on the White House lawn.  In addition to keeping the lawn trimmed “in the most economical way,” their wool was sold and the proceeds were donated to the Red Cross.

Warren Gamaliel Harding – President from March 4, 1921 to August 2, 1923 

Warren G. Harding had a pet Squirrel named Pete, and his wife, Florence, had Canaries.

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. – President from August 3, 1923 to March 4, 1929 

Calvin and Grace Coolidge presided over almost every kind of earthly creature at their version of the White House Zoo, including Nip and Tuck (Canaries), Snowflake (a white Canary), Old Bill (a Thrush), Enoch (a goose), a cat named Tiger, another cat named Blacky, critters Rebecca and Reuben (Raccoons), a Donkey named Ebenezer, a Bobcat they called Smoky, as well as Grace’s Mockingbird. 

From other countries’ dignitaries, they received wild things:  Lion cubs (Tax Reduction and Budget Bureau), a Wallaby, a Pygmy Hippo (Bill) and a Black Bear. 

Herbert Hoover – President from March 4, 1929 to March 4, 1933 

One hundred years after John Quincy and Louisa Adams “regaled” guests with their amphibious reptile, President Herbert Hoover’s son, Allan Henry, brought a pair of alligators to the White House that freely sauntered around the property. 

Dwight David (“Ike”) Eisenhower – President from January 20, 1953 to January 20, 1961

Budgie Parakeets - blue, yellow, 2 yellow, green and blue
Budgie Parakeets

The President (apparently) acquired Gabby, the Parakeet, for his grandchildren in about 1954.  All that is known about that little creature is that it didn’t speak and it passed away in 1957.  Gabby is buried near the Executive Mansion.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy – President January 20, 1961 to November 22, 1963 

Beyond their dogs, the Kennedy family had an assortment of living creatures:  Tom Kitten (Cat), warblers, Robin (Canary), Bluebelll and Marybelle (Parakeets), rodents Debbie and Billie (Hamsters), Ponies named Tex and Leprechaun, and a cottontail named Zsa Zsa, two horses (Sardar and Rufus).

Caroline’s Pony was called Macaroni.

Gerald Ford – President August 9, 1974 to January 20, 1977

Gerald Ford had a Siamese cat named Shan. 

James Earl Carter, Jr.  – President from January 20, 1977 to January 20, 1981

Jimmy Carter had a Siamese cat named Misty Malarky Ying Yang.

Ronald Reagan – President from January 20, 1981 to January 20, 1989

The Reagans had horses on their California ranch, Rancho del Cielo – among them, a grey Anglo Arab named El Alamein (a 1980 gift from Lopez Portillo, President of Mexico), No Strings and Nancy D. 

Bill Clinton – President from January 20, 1993 to January 20, 2001

Bill and Hillary Clinton had a black-and-white stray feline named Socks. 

George W. Bush – President from January 20, 2001 to January 20, 2009

George W. Bush’s family had a long-time pet, a jet-black Cat named India.  India’s nickname was Willie.  They also had a Longhorn cow named Ofelia who lived at their Crawford, Texas ranch with her offspring, Ellie and Logan. 

Barack Obama – President from January 20, 2009 to January 20, 2017

75+ years after Allan Henry Hoover’s pair of alligators freely roamed the White House property, First Lady Michelle Obama kept bees and gave White House honey to visiting ambassadors. 


Resources: Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org), United States Presidential Pets (Wikipedia.org), Newsmax (https://newsmax.com), The Presidential Pet Museum (www.presidentialpetmuseum), (www.theeconomist.com), (www.10news.com), (www.thedenverchannel.com), (https://www.info-france-usa.org/presidents-of-the-usa-and-their-pets/), (www.psychologytoday.com), The New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/1992/11/01/opinion/foreign-affairs-george-bill-and-millie.html), The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com), animal planet (www.animalplanet.com), www.hillspet.com,     

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