America’s First Presidential Hyena

America’s First Presidential Hyena
– An Ethiopian Of Course
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— Did you know there was once a pet Ethiopian Hyena in the Whitehouse? …

News of the arrival of the hyena was first reported by the New York Times in March 1904 with the frontpage story entitled: “MENELIK TO ROOSEVELT; Laughing Hyena and Ugly Lion Cub the Strenuous Presents” It reported that the gifts were destined for US President Theodore Roosevelt from Emperor Menelik of Ethiopia, and had arrived with the returning American Mission to Ethiopia lead by diplomat Robert Peet Skinner. Among the gifts were two elephant tusks, two baby lion cubs—and a puppy hyena. The little Hyena would be named Bill. According to “The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America” by Douglas Brinkley: “He [Roosevelt] kept Bill for a while, teaching it tricks, enjoying its high-pitched cackle, and letting it beg for table scraps.” According to “Ethiopia and the United States: History, Diplomacy, and Analysis” by Getachew Metaferia, “The two cubs and hyena were later kept at the Washington Rock Creek Zoo, now the current National Zoo.”
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