Over the years, certain pets have become household names for various reasons, whether it be due to their appearance on television or film, or because of their association to their high-profile celebrity owners. Here's a look at 10 world famous animals and their current whereabouts.
One of the first questions U.S. President Obama was asked during his first press conference had to do with the breed of dog the family would choose for the new presidential pet. Even CNN devoted hours of coverage to the Obama family’s search for their newest addition. After much hemming and hawing Senator Ted Kennedy broke the stalemate and presented the family with a Portuguese Water Dog. Bo, like all of the Obamas, has garnered much attention and even has his own baseball card complete with his official portrait and stats. The picture here shows a police officer coralling the pooch after it escaped the White House and roamed the south lawn in April 2009!
Bubbles the Chimp
To say that Michael Jackson’s last days and dramatic demise got a lot of media attention would be an understatement—the man shut down the Internet. But in the flurry of exposés and exposés of exposés, did anyone stop and ask themselves, “What happened to Bubbles?”For a time Bubbles the Chimp, Jackson’s often identically-dressed pet, was one of the most famous pets in the world.
Though there are multiple stories for just how Michael adopted Bubbles, the most common is that he got the ape when it was three from a cancer research clinic. Jackson brought Bubbles back to his home in Encino, California and from that point on the two were inseparable.
Bubbles slept in a crib in Jackson’s bedroom, followed him on tour and learned how to moonwalk. The monkey even came to the set when Jackson filmed the Bad video. Tragically, the glory days were not to last. As Jackson’s star began to fade in the ’90s, so too did Bubbles’. In 2003 Michael admitted to the media that after a violent episode the chimp had been moved to an animal sanctuary. Some say it was because Bubbles was getting physical out of jealousy for Jackson’s first born son, Prince Michael. Steven Davis, who ghostwrote Jackson’s autobiography, says the monkey was exiled after throwing feces at a group of Japanese school children.
However it happened, Bubbles was thrown out of Neverland and never returned. While it was rumored Bubbles attempted to commit suicide in 2003, the chimp is still alive and well in the sanctuary.
Not many dogs can claim to have “written” their own memoir, but Tinkerbell Hilton is special. This little Chihuahua tripped the life fantastic at the side of her socialite owner Paris Hilton and held a regular cameo on Hilton’s A Simple Life reality TV show. Tinkerbell is said to have set off the trend in “accessory dogs”—tiny dogs that can be carried around as though they were a handbag. In fact, she was often found in an oversized purse of some sort hanging off Hilton’s arm. Like her owner, Tinkerbell was completely spoiled. The little dog lived in a $325,000 house on the Beverly Hills property of Nikki Hilton.
The Taco Bell Dog
Everyone knew his catchphrase but few took the time to learn the name of the Taco Bell dog. Gidget the Chihuahua rocketed to fame shortly after the launch of a Chihuahua-centric ad campaign in 1997 by the Mexican-styled fast food giant. Gidget quickly became a part of late-’90s culture. His handsome mug not only graced television screens across the world, but T-shirts, stuffed animals and billboards too.
However, no flame can burn so brightly forever. Gidget’s commercials were cancelled in 2000 after a Hispanic lobby group declared that the dog represented a racist stereotype and he quickly fell out of the public consciousness.
On July 21, 2009 the dog was euthanized after suffering a debilitating stroke. He lives on in our memories, Youtube videos and animated .gifs. Yo quiero Gidget.
Most of us talk to our pets, but Mr. Ed captured the imagination of a nation when he opened those giant lips of his and finally spoke back. Granted, the talking was all camera tricks and the voice belonged to Allan Lane, but North American’s loved him nonetheless. Bamboo Harvester, the horse who played Mr. Ed, enjoyed six seasons of limelight before the show’s eventual finish, but those seasons of fame wouldn’t translate into a long-term career.
The horse was euthanized in 1968 after suffering from an array of health problems and buried without ceremony in Oklahoma.
Eddie the Dog
So often the animals in television shows are treated like just another bit of scenery. But Eddie the Dog was too big to be pushed into the background. This little Jack Russell Terrier stole so much spotlight that he became a star in his own right on the hit TV sitcom Frasier. Eddie, named Moose in real life, was famous for his head tilts and quizzical looks.
No animal, however, can work forever. After seven years in the biz (42 dog years), Moose retired leaving the family business to his son Enzo, who finished off the show. He passed away from old age in June of 2006. Upon his death John Mahoney—Marty Crane—released a statement to the press calling Moose a “consummate professional.”
Dolly the Sheep
Dolly’s entrance into the world was probably the first and only time the world at large will care about the birth of one sheep. She was the first ever animal cloned from the cell of another adult animal, through a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer. She got the name Dolly because the cell she was cloned from came from the mammary gland of another sheep.
During her life, Dolly stayed at the Roslin Institute where she was born, constantly surrounded by a flurry of scientists eager to see how she developed. Her life was one plagued with health issues. The Roslin scientists discovered that she was aging at an accelerated rate, developing arthritis at the age of five and finally a case of progressive lung disease. Dolly was euthanized on February 14, 2003.
She is survived by her six children, Sally, Rosie, Bonnie, Lucy, Cotton, and Darcy. If you’d like to visit her, Dolly is stuffed and on display at the Royal Museum of Scotland.
Socks the Cat
Yes, presidents are famous for their dogs, but Socks the Cat was not a man to be denied. He was adopted by the Clintons as the official presidential pet in 1991 after braving the secret service and audaciously jumping into the arms of Chelsea Clinton as she was leaving a piano lesson. He enjoyed six beautiful years as the official White House pet. A cartoon avatar of Socks even guided visitors through the White House website.
Socks’ glory days, however, were not to last. In 1997 an interloper, a Labrador Retriever by the name of Buddy, moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and quickly displaced Socks.
Socks and Buddy despised each other. Hilary Clinton said the two “hated each other on first sight.” Bill Clinton joked that he had better luck mediating between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
When the Clintons moved out of the White House in 2001 they took Buddy with them and gave Socks to Clinton’s secretary Betty Currie. Ouch.
Like all weather men, Punxsutawny Phil makes mistakes, but despite that fact this groundhog’s yearly prediction on the nearness of spring remains law to some. Every February 2nd, Phil is abducted from his home in Punxsutawny, Pennsylvania, held up in front of an awestruck crowd and forced to tell the masses how much longer they’re going to have to bear the winter. In the off season, a group called the Inner Circle cares for Phil and his wife Phyllis.
Despite the fact that a groundhog has an average life span or 10 years and Punxsutawny Phil has been around for 120 years, the Inner Circle insists that the Phil that predicted spring this year is the same one that predicted spring over a century ago. When asked why Phil has survived 12 times longer than any other groundhog in history, the Inner Circle said that they have a beverage called “Groundhog Punch” that extends Phil’s life span. They also claim that they are able to understand Phil’s predictions because the club President speaks “groundhogese.”
Shamu the Killer Whale
Shamu was the second female orca ever captured and only the third ever orca put on display for the public. Since she was captured from the wild, we don’t know exactly how old Shamu was but by best guesses she was born in 1961. Though Shamu was originally meant to be a companion for an orca named Namu in a Seattle aquarium, the two didn’t hit it off and she was moved to Sea World in San Diego in 1965. Shamu starred in a number of Sea World Shows but was forced into retirement. Contrary to what we’ve seen in movies and cartoons, wild orcas don’t enjoy being ridden and someone caught Shamu on tape attacking a trainer, Annette Eckis, who kept trying to do just that.
The real Shamu died from a blood infection in 1971 at the estimated age of 10—much earlier than the average female orca which lives to about 50. Sea World has since turned the name Shamu into a stage name for a number of the killer whales that perform in the parks. Those with a yen for whales can watch “Shamu” swimming in her tank on the Shamu Cam.
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