Dakota Johnson Says Her Grandma Tippi Hedren Once Owned 60 Wild Cats

Hilary Weaver
Photo credit: eddie sanderson - Getty Images
Photo credit: eddie sanderson - Getty Images


If you, like everyone else in America, were hooked on Tiger King at the beginning of quarantine, then you might want to dive into another, perhaps lesser-known history: actress Tippi Hedren and her wild cats.

Hedren, who starred in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, is the mother of Melanie Griffith and grandmother of Griffith's daughter Dakota Johnson. She also began rescuing big cats in the early 1970s, and in 1983 she founded the Roar Foundation, the mission of which "is to educate the public about the dangers of private ownership of exotic animals." In a remote interview with British talk-show host Graham Norton, Johnson shared that, at one point, her grandmother once had 60 big cats living at her house. She still has more than a dozen, apparently.

"She has 13 or 14 lions and tigers," Johnson said. "There used to be 60 cats, but now there're just a couple."

They also discussed some famous photos of Hedren in her kitchen while a giant tiger leaps through the window. "It is what it is, it's a tiger jumping through your kitchen window," Norton said.

Photo credit: Mirrorpix - Getty Images
Photo credit: Mirrorpix - Getty Images

Norton also brought up an infamous photo of Griffith jumping into her family pool while a lion named Niel had her leg in his mouth. "Oh, yeah, with the leg and the mouth," said Johnson, recalling the image. "She didn't lose the leg," she confirmed lightheartedly. These moments were captured by LIFE magazine photographer Michael Rougier in 1971.

Imagine this being a normal day at home:

Hedren has since said it was "stupid beyond belief" to allow these big cats to roam around her house and interact freely with her family.

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