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Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, had a pet badger called Josiah.

Apparently, Josiah was given to the president as a cub in 1903 by a little girl in Kansas.  Roosevelt was on a tour of the country at the time, and when his train stopped and he stepped out of the carriage the girl literally thrust the baby badger into his hands, saying that it was called Josiah.

I can’t imagine this sort of thing happening to a president today, but Roosevelt was made of sterner stuff.  A rugged outdoorsman in his day, he took the event in his stride and adopted the badger.   He had many pets, including a guinea pig called Fighting Bob Evans, which gives you a clue to his character.

His family kept Josiah in the White House and fed him on milk, and as soon as he was old enough he would run around the building, biting the legs of passers-by.

Sadly, although Roosevelt went on to become the only president to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, it seems that Josiah’s fate was less noble.  He was eventually sent to live in the Bronx Zoo on account of his habit of “hissing like a tea kettle” and biting guests on the ankle. 

Despite Josiah’s ignominious retirement, he did set the standard for badgers in the White House.  Barack Obama, take note – if you want to get ahead, get a badger…

Thanks to Louise for alerting me to this story.

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