President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace Coolidge pose with some of their pet dogs on June 6, 1930. (AP)

President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace Coolidge pose with some of their pet dogs on June 6, 1930. (AP)

Mrs. Coolidge holds her pet raccoon Rebecca. (Library of Congress)

Mrs. Coolidge holds her pet raccoon Rebecca. (Library of Congress)

President Woodrow Wilson’s sheep graze on the White House lawn. (Library of Congress)

President Woodrow Wilson’s sheep graze on the White House lawn. (Library of Congress)

President Teddy Roosevelt’s son poses with the family’s pet macaw. (Library of Congress)

President Teddy Roosevelt’s son poses with the family’s pet macaw. (Library of Congress)

This 1970 painting by Louis S. Glanzman depicts First Lady Louisa Catherine Adams winding silk while President John Quincy Adams works at a table. (White House Historical Association)

This 1970 painting by Louis S. Glanzman depicts First Lady Louisa Catherine Adams winding silk while President John Quincy Adams works at a table. (White House Historical Association)

The White House Is a Zoo!

Posted: March 1, 2021

Thirtieth U.S. president Calvin Coolidge had a nickname: Silent Cal. He’s remembered for not saying much. But the White House wasn’t so quiet when he lived there. He basically turned it into a zoo!

Silent Cal had nine dogs. But that was just the beginning. He also kept four cats, three canaries, a goose named Enoch, a donkey named Ebenezer, and a bobcat. Oh—and let’s not forget the two lion cubs, the wallaby, the pygmy hippo, and the black bear, gifts from other countries. President 26, Theodore Roosevelt, kept quite a menagerie as well. Teddy had horses, dogs, a bear named Jonathan Edwards, snakes, guinea pigs, a hyena, a zebra, and more.

Altogether, more than 400 pets have lived at the White House. Only two presidents in American history have lived in the White House without pets: James K. Polk and Donald J. Trump. (Andrew Johnson fed the White House mice.)

Did you know . . . ?

Rebecca the Raccoon was supposed to be Christmas dinner. Someone donated the masked mammal to President Coolidge’s family for eating. But the First Family decided to keep her as a pet instead. Later, they got her a raccoon playmate named Rueben.

Woodrow Wilson brought in living lawnmowers. During World War I, President Wilson kept a flock of 48 sheep on the White House lawn. They munched the grass. This saved labor and money during a hard time in the nation. Their wool was also auctioned for $52,823.

Not just cuddly pets lived at the White House. Worms did too. First Lady Louisa Adams was married to John Quincy Adams. She kept silk worms. The worms lived on White House mulberry trees. Mrs. Adams spun thread from the fibers they made.

One presidential dog earned himself a statue. People adored President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s little dog, Fala. Americans wrote Fala thousands of letters. You can find a bronze statue of the Scottish Terrier in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.