Growing up there wasn't a thing in the world I wanted more than a wild cat of my own. My desires fluctuated between a lynx and a cheetah, but I'm pretty sure either would have worked. I knew you couldn't really have a wild thing as a pet but it couldn't hurt to dream, right? Well it turns out I was wrong! Loads of people had wild things as pets! Of course there's Audrey and Pippin, her little deer, but did you know Josephine Baker had a pet cheetah named Chiquita (who wore a diamond collar!)? Josephine's not the only one. Phyllis Gordon, a silent film star, had a cheetah and so did Osa Johnson, an early American explorer. She named hers Bong (ha!). Dali had an ocelot and an anteater. John Barrymore had a monkey. Kahlo a deer. Beatrix Potter, fittingly, a bunny. The list goes on. There was even a widely circulated catalogue in the '60s and '70s, Stromberg's, hawking everything from zebra colts ($3,500) to de-scented skunk kittens ($35)! Of course I can't condone ripping animals from the wild, but I sure do enjoy admiring these eccentrics and their pals from the past.
All photos via Retronaut. From top: Josephine Baker and Chiquita, her cheetah, Phyllis Gordon and her cheetah, Ona Johnson and her cheetah, Bong (!!), a pet ocelot, Kahlo and her deer, John Barrymore and Clementine, his monkey, Dali and his ocelot