Weird History

Historical Figures With Animal Sidekicks  

Stephan Roget
16.8k views 13 items

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but it’s not exactly an exclusive relationship; historical figures with pets definitely bear out this truth. Humanity, and the unique individuals who comprise it, has entered into all manner of partnership with the animal kingdom over the centuries. Countless important historical figures have warmed our hearts with their furry friendships, but most of these are of the basic cat-or-dog variety, like Bo Obama or Checkers, the Nixon dog. That makes the historical figures who do have interesting and unique animal companions really stand out.

Some of the names associated with these bizarre animal sidekicks are so famous that it seems strange that their beastly buddies aren’t more well known. John Quincy Adams shared an alligator with Marquis de Lafayette, Tycho Brahe's drunk moose is the stuff of real legend, and Mozart composed his brilliant work with a friendly little starling. Dalí and Babou the Ocelot were a couple of adorable buddies, and that’s to say nothing of the “useful” pets like Ramesses II’s vicious battle lion. Gaze upon the sheer awesomeness of these human-animal collaborations, and, perhaps, take the time to think twice before committing to a dog or cat next time you’re looking for a pet. There might just be a more interesting option available!

Tycho Brahe is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Historical Figures With Animal Sidekicks
Photo: Unknown/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Sources will differ as to whether the famed Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe, owned a moose or an elk; although, a moose seems more likely. All sources agree, however, that Brahe got that large mammal astoundingly drunk on a regular basis, whatever species it was. Brahe respected his pet moose so much that he sometimes sent it to visit various nobility as an envoy of sorts. It was on one such diplomatic mission that the moose met its tragic end, getting far too drunk late into the night and then falling down a set of castle stairs to its death.

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Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Historical Figures With Animal Sidekicks
Photo: NPS/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Thomas Jefferson owned a lot of things in his lifetime, including a ridiculous number of slaves, but he also owned some living creatures that were both adorable and a lot less shameful. In 1807, while president, Jefferson received a pair of bear cubs from the newly discovered grizzly species. Jefferson found the creatures fascinating, but they quickly outgrew their cave and had to spend some time in a pen on the lawn. Eventually, Jefferson found the bears a home at a Philadelphia museum of natural history, but their story did not end happily, as one of them escaped and terrorized a family, resulting in them both being put down.

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Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Historical Figures With Animal Sidekicks
Photo: Abbott, John S.C./Wikimedia Commons/No restrictions

Napoleon Bonaparte is one of history’s most mocked figures, so it’s surprising that more noise isn’t made about the fact that he was often made to eat his meals with an orangutan. The ape – named Rose – belonged to his wife, Josephine, and was one of her most treasured companions. Josephine liked to dress Rose in fancy chemises, and Rose loved to eat turnips. Sadly, when the Bonapartes had to move to another part of the country, Rose caught an intestinal inflammation and died. Josephine ensured she received a proper funeral.

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One Alligator Was Owned By Both Marquis De Lafayette And John Quincy Adams
One Alligator Was Owned ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Historical Figures With Animal Sidekicks
Photo: Joseph-Désiré Court/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Having an alligator in a bathtub in the White House seems completely unacceptable. Perhaps an exception can be made, however, for one particular alligator in history, who happened to have ties to two important American figures. The first was Marquis de Lafayette, a Frenchman who helped America win the Revolutionary War and was later gifted an American alligator for his efforts upon a return to the US. De Lafayette eventually re-gifted the gator to John Quincy Adams, who was president at the time. Adams really did have the beast live in a bathtub in one wing of the White House, and he loved to spook guests with it.