Tags: Presidential History | theodore roosevelt | pets | president

First Pets: Four-Legged or Feathered Friends of President Theodore Roosevelt

By    |   Monday, 11 May 2015 05:08 PM

When Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901, he moved into the Executive Mansion with his wife, six children and more pets than the White House had ever seen before.

The family's menagerie included a small bear named Jonathan Edwards; a lizard named Bill; guinea pigs named Admiral Dewey, Dr. Johnson, Bishop Doane, Fighting Bob Evans and Father O'Grady; Maude the pig; Josiah the badger; Eli Yale the blue macaw; Baron Spreckle the hen; a one-legged rooster; a hyena; a barn owl; Peter the rabbit; and Algonquin the pony, according to the National Park Service.

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Algonquin was so beloved that when the President's son, Archie, was sick in bed, his brothers Kermit and Quentin brought the pony up to his room in the White House elevator. Algonquin was so captivated by his own reflection in the elevator mirror that it was hard to get him out.

One of the more colorful — and noisy – of the Roosevelt pets was Eli Yale, the blue macaw named after Elihu Yale, the 18th-century British merchant and philanthropist who is the namesake of Yale University.

According to the Presidential Pet Museum, the colorful macaw is best known for having been photographed in 1902 in the White House conservatory on the arm of a well-dressed and serious-looking Teddy Jr., who was 14 at the time.

In 1908, the Washington Evening Star reported that the family's pets not only occupied the attention of the children but the president himself was a good friend of them.

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The Roosevelts were dog lovers as well and their many canines included Sailor Boy the Chesapeake retriever; Jack the terrier; Skip the mongrel; Pete, a bull terrier who sank his teeth into so many legs that he had to be exiled to the Roosevelt home in Long Island; and a small black Pekingese named Manchu, who Roosevelt's daughter Alice received from the last empress of China during a trip to the Far East.

Alice also had a pet garter snake, which she was fond of carrying around in her pocketbook and displaying at unexpected times. She named the snake Emily Spinach because it was "as green as spinach and as thin as my Aunt Emily," reports the Presidential Pet Museum.

Roosevelt's son, Quentin, once bought four snakes at a pet shop and brought them to show his father, interrupting an important meeting. Quentin released the four snakes on Roosevelt's desk. Roosevelt, who was usually easy-going, was not amused, and made him to return the snakes to the pet shop.

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When Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901, he moved into the Executive Mansion with his wife, six children and more pets than the White House had ever seen before.
theodore roosevelt, pets, president
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2015-08-11
Monday, 11 May 2015 05:08 PM
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