• Queen Elizabeth owned many animals
  • She received several exotic gifts during her reign
  • Past monarchs also kept exotic animals 

The Queen was gifted many animals 

From two pygmy hippos from the Liberian President to two giant tortoises from the Seychelles, the Queen was treated to a wide variety of unique creatures.

Interestingly, some of the first gifts she received as queen in 1953 were three horses and two ponies. The ponies, used for polo, came from President Perón of Argentina. An Arabian stallion came from King Faisal of Iraq, while another Arabian stallion named Alhehal and an Arabian mare named Al Masouda were given by the Imam of Yemen.

Other animals given to the Queen include two American beavers and an Arctic fox from Canada, two giant anteaters and a sloth from Brazil and a young Nile crocodile from the people of The Gambia.

Royals are no strangers to elaborate gifts

While the queen may have had a remarkable collection of animal gifts, she was not the first monarch to own exotic animals. Hundreds of animals once called the Tower of London, which used to be a zoo housing baboons, elephants, zebras, tigers and lions, home. 

The Barbary lions were the star attraction of the zoo. They were sent by Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor, to persuade Henry III to a diplomatic agreement. The lions were a tribute to the animals on the coat of arms of England, which were established by Richard I, known as Richard the Lionheart.

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Henry III also received an African elephant from Louis IX, which supposedly died either from the cold weather in London or from drinking red wine. He was also given three leopards and a polar bear from King Haakon of Norway. The 'white bear' was allowed to go fishing in the River Thames, which was quite a sight!

Today, the Tower of London is home to the iconic ravens, as well as the governors' mascots.