Winston Churchill spoke about very many things in his life spanning nine decades. To me, the most insightful statement was this: “I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.” He should know better than anybody else as he had cats, dogs, pigs, butterflies, swans, horses, parrots and even a lion named ‘Rota’ for company!
One man who’d surely agree with Churchill is George Clooney. He had a potbellied pig, ‘Max the Star’, as his pet for 18 long years before he turned his roving eye to his wife Amal Amaluddin.
Choosing to spend many hours with unusual pets is considered therapeutic by stars. That probably explains why Nicholas Cage had a shark, an octopus, and two albino king cobras as buddies. Or why Leonardo DiCaprio chose to cosy up to an exotic African tortoise.
Elvis Presley was another oddball with a penchant for the quirky. Rumour has it that the rock star bought a wardrobe full of suits and ties for his chimpanzee ‘Scatter’ who was later sadly poisoned by one of his maids. A piece of delicious trivia that would delight Karunanidhi & MK Stalin is: Elvis also had a horse by the name ‘Rising Sun’. They should be glad he didn’t call it ‘Two Leaves’.
When the Swiss Open organisers gifted Roger Federer ‘Desiree’, a cow, they assumed that the tennis great would shower love and affection on it. Instead he sent it to a dairy farm and had it slaughtered when the cow didn’t produce enough milk! Clearly, he was no pet champion.
In contrast, history has been rife with examples of immense love. Josephine Napoleon (spouse of Napoleon Bonaparte) used to accord royalty status to ‘Rose’, her orangutan. Salvador Dali, often took his dwarf leopard, ‘Babou’ wherever he went. Once, when Dali entered a restaurant, he was declined entry because of his carnivorous companion. Dali instantly cooked a surreal explanation and said, his friend happened to look wild because he had painted his cat. That pawsome quip saved the day.
Mike Tyson, the boxer famed for biting his opponent’s ears, is also renowned for spending close to $ 4000 a month for the upkeep of three Royal Bengal Tigers (names: Kenya, Storm & Boris). No wonder, he went bankrupt. Reese Witherspoon, however, takes the cake for unusual pets. She has two little donkeys, adorably named ‘Honky’ and ‘Tonky’. Apparently, she’s one lady who can tell her ass from her elbow!