Sometimes people just aren’t satisfied with a cat. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Lions and tigers and bears – oh my! There have always been people who have pushed the pet envelope. Elvis had a kangaroo. George Clooney kept company with a not-so-small potbelly pig. Tippi Hendren and her daughter, Melanie Griffith, owned a pet lion. There are plenty of people who think owning a cat or dog is just too boring. Instead, they bring home exotic, wild, or large game animals. Is it completely crazy or kinda cool? Maybe a little of both. You be the judge. Here are the weirdest pets from around the world.
Jessica the Hippo
If you ask us, it looks Jessica the hippo is smiling. (Photo: Steven Tan/Flickr)
While most people think the lion is the fiercest animal in Africa – it is actually the hippopotamus that is the deadliest. But there seems to be one exception: Jessica, the hippo owned by Tonie and Shirley Joubert of Hoedspruit, South Africa. During the floods in Mozambique in 2000, the Jouberts were on a walk when the discovered the baby hippo the banks of the Blyde River. The calf had been swept away from it’s mother shortly after birth and still had the umbilical cord attached. Tonie, a game ranger, knew how to create a milk formula that the baby hippo could eat. Ever since then the Joubert’s have been parents to “Jessica.” She plays with the dogs, walks through the house (although she has broken a couch and a bed) and even gets massages before to help her sleep. She has grown into a large (weighing close to a ton!), but gentle “daughter” who even has boyfriend hippos that come calling from the surrounding waterholes. Not a traditional pet but a pretty terrific one if you ask us.
Bailey, Jr. the Plains Bison
Bailey, Jr. and his owner (Photo: Michael Hall/Flickr)
Ever wonder who owns the largest indoor pet in the world? The prize goes to Jim Sautner of Spruce Grove, Canada. In 2008, after the death of his first buffalo, Bailey Sr., Sautner adopted a baby male bison, which he named Bailey Jr. Instantly, the two had a special bond and became inseparable. Mr. Sautner even takes Bailey, Jr. down to the local bar for some brew and out on joyrides in his 1987 Pontiac Bonneville convertible. (He had the car’s windows removed and its chassis re-enforced to support Bailey’s 1500-pound weight.) While one would think having a bison is high maintenance, Bailey munches on a simple diet of hay and oats and takes care of cleaning his coat. But is he a bull in a china shop? Not Bailey, Jr. With consistent and patient training, he knows how to behave in the house and follows Saunter around like a loyal dog.
Zen the Lynx
Zen and her “sister” Sophia (Photo: Caters News)
In 2008, Pavel and Svetlana Nikulochkin from Kaluga, Russia, rescued a rare lynx from an animal sanctuary. But it was their daughter, Sophia, 13, who had a maternal instinct toward the cub. She bottle fed “Zen,” and played with him as though he was a regular kitten. Over time, the family fell so in love with their wildcat, they moved out of their apartment and bought a house to accommodate his need for a larger place to pace about. Although lynx tend to be loners, Zen seems to enjoy letting Sophia dress him up and even sleeps in bed with her. But are they worried about their cat not being so ‘Zen’ and attacking with its razor sharp teeth and claws? Nope. They say he purrs like a gentle kitty but behaves commands like a dog.
Sasha the Mountain Lion
Infanti and Sasha (Photo: LAURENTIU GAROFEANU/Barcroft Media /Landov)
Mario Infanti’s wife, Lenore, has some fierce competition in the bedroom – a cougar. Not that kind. An actual cougar. Infanti lets his 200-lb pet lion, Sasha, sleep in his bed. The jazz guitarist got Sasha 14 years ago when she was just a kitten. For months he didn’t leave her side making sure she was feed and cared for. Ever since watching Tarzan as a boy, Infanti had been obsessed with big cats. He specifically moved to Florida, a state with relaxed pet ownership laws, so that he could have one. And as Sasha grew up, the couple decided not to have children so they could care for their furry “daughter.” Today, Sasha not only sleeps in bed with Infanti, she swims in the pool and watches TV with him, and has the run of the home.
Socke the Llama
Doepper gets some love from Socke (Photo: Reuters)
Llamas aren’t known for being the friendliest animals. They spit. They bite. And well, they have been known to smell bad. So it’s hard to believe one could be a good pet. But such is the case with Socke the llama. When Socke was young, one of his hind legs got injured and was amputated. Nicole Doepper from Western Germany, took him in to her apartment to care for him. When the time came to move Socke back outside, he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) adjust. Outdoor life clearly didn’t have the perks of Doepper’s home. And there he has stayed ever since. Enjoying the good life of yummy food, warm lodgings, and plenty of love and attention. If there’s one thing we can say about Socke, he’s no dumb llama.
Billy the Grizzly Bear
Billy and his owners Mark and Dawn Dumas playing pool (Photo: LAURENTIU GAROFEANU/Barcroft Media /Landov )
Teddy bears are cuddly. That’s why almost every child wants one. But grizzly bears? Grizzly bears are a totally different story. First, they are real. Second, they are mean. But that didn’t stop Mark and Dawn Dumas from adopting one. Of course, if anyone is qualified to own a bear cub – it is these two. The Dumas, who live in Vancouver, Canada, train animals that work in the movies and TV. The cub, whom they named Billy, was six months old and somewhat socialized when they brought him home. While most people would be scared to death of such a pet, the couple has trained their “teenager” to always be on his best behavior. So far, so good. Billy likes playing in the pool and “acting.” Now, just three years old, he already weighs close to 600 pounds. He is expected to weigh over 800 when he is finished growing. Maybe when he’s “grown,” he’ll get his own place.
Pua the Tamandua
Pua goes for a walk (Photo: Facebook)
Angela Goodwin’s pet tamandua, Pua, became an Internet sensation thanks to her blog, livingwithanteaters.com. With a long face, funny personality and interesting eating habits, the medium-size anteater has captured the hearts of all that have seen him. He was even featured in the movie, Dr. Doolittle: Tail To The Chief. Pua comes from Guyana, South America, and was adopted in 2006. He now lives with Goodwin in her Oregon home snuggling, napping in the washing machine, and making mischief with the two tiny dogs he calls housemates. The cost for anteaters starts at $6,000 and they require special diet and skincare. And while they generally feast on ants and termites, Goodwin has come up with a special meal made of wheat bran, spinach, thyme, and raw ground beef, which Pua loves.
Gari the Capybara.
Gari always enjoyed getting attention. (Photo: Steven Harris/Flickr)
Think a rat is large? Well, they’ve got nothing on capybaras. The largest species in the rodent world can weigh up to 120 pounds – the same size as a large Tibetan Mastiff. And while rodents can be a questionable pet choice, there is one woman who has made the case for these lovable creatures. Melanie Typaldos first fell in love with capybaras while on vacation in Venezuela. When she got back to her home in Buda, Texas, she did some research and found that capybaras are herd animals and make surprisingly good pets. It wasn’t long after that she got her first one, Caplin Rous. After he died, she got a second, Garibaldi Rous, who made headlines for his large size and adorable personality. Typaldos once described him as a cross between a dog (because he would walk on a leash and knew tricks), a cat (for ignoring her when she called his name), and an otter (because he loved to swim and play in the water). While Gari recently passed away, Typaldos plans on getting a new capybara next spring. In the meantime, she has been volunteering at the Snake Farm Zoo, in New Braunfels, Texas, helping to take care of two capybaras, Wesley, and Fiona, Gari’s little sister. She also started the Rous Foundation, a charity started in conjunction with Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine to help fund expenses associated with the care of captive capybaras.
Video: An Adorable Playdate Between a Capybara and a Puppy