U is for Unusual Pets: Opossum, Badger, and Pygmy Hippopotamus
Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893), Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) and Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929), Herbert Hoover (1929-1933).
President Benjamin Harrison was given two opossums that he named Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection. (I found this image on the internet – I’m pretty sure somebody added the opossum to a photo of Harrison!)
President Herbert Hoover had an opossum named Billy! (Allegedly an actual photo of Billy.)
While on a tour through the West President Theodore Roosevelt was standing on the platform of a train giving a speech when a young girl threw a baby badger to him. Of course the President took him home and the children loved him. He was named Josiah (some sources record his name as Joshua), he was affectionate with the children and his favorite food was milk and potatoes. (Supposedly an actual photo of Josiah!)
President Calvin Coolidge is second only to Theodore Roosevelt in the number of animals donated to the Washington Zoo. In 1927 he received notification that Harvey Samuel Firestone had captured a pygmy hippopotamus on one of his rubber tree plantations in Liberia and was shipping it home. The animal may have been a pygmy but as an adult, William Johnson, or Billy, as he was called, was already 6 feet long and weighed 600 pounds. With his arrival, Billy was only the eighth one ever brought into the United States and was valuable. Billy lived at the National Zoo in Washington and became the ancestor to most pygmy hippos in the country today. When he died in 1955 at the approximate age of 29, he had sired 23 calves with at least 13 having survived at least a year.