With their discipline, loyalty, and total lack of ulterior motives, it’s no wonder that so many animals in history have won elections over human candidates and outranked men in service. But the animals listed here have received such incredible titles, and have such awe-inspiring stories, that they sound like Oscar drama contenders.
From the cat who brought in millions of dollars to a small town in Japan by serving as a station master, to a bear that fought the good fight in World War II, here are some animals that will make you think, “Why do we even vote for humans anyway?” And for more surprising knowledge on your favorite furry friends, don’t miss these 40 Amazing Animal Facts.
The Cat Mayor of Alaska
In 1997, Lauri Stec, the manager of Nagley’s General Store in Talkeetna, Alaska, found a box of kittens up for adoption in her parking lot. She picked an adorable ginger-haired one and named him “Stubbs” because he had no tail. To honor his integrity (and protest the human candidates), the citizens chose Stubbs as their town mayor, a position he served honorably for the next 20 years up until he died of natural causes last July. And for more fun facts—or, well, false facts—here are 40 Facts You Learned in the 20th Century That Are Totally Bogus Today.
The Knighted Penguin of Norway
In 1972, a lieutenant of the the Norwegian King’s Guard decided to adopt a King penguin at the Edinburugh Zoo, and named it Nils Olav in honor of himself and King Olav V of Norway. He was initially given the title of lance corporal, and was promoted to sergeant shortly before his death in 1987. He was succeeded by a two-year-old King Penguin named Nils Olav II, who quickly rose up the royal ranks from honourable regimental sergeant major to Colonel-in-Chief. In 2008, he became the first penguin ever to be awarded knighthood by the Norwegian Army. The Norwegian king, King Harald V, himself attended the ceremony, declaring that Nils had shown himself “in every way qualified to receive the honour and dignity of knighthood.” And for more astonishing trivia about our crazy world, here are 100 Awesome Facts About Everything.
The Cat Station Master of Japan
In the small Japanese city of Kinokawa, there was once a female calico cat who operated the local station. Born as a stray in the area, she quickly warmed the hearts of daily passengers, as well as the informal station manager, Toshiko Koyama, who decided to adopt her and name her Tama (a common name for cats in Japan).
When financial problems arose, the citizens rallied to prevent it from getting shut down, and officially named Koyama the station manager and Tama the station master. Armed with a cap and a station master’s noble badge, Tama greeted passengers and wished them a pleasant journey up until her death in 2015. Her popularity was such that she essentially saved the station from ruin, leading to a 10% increase in passengers in her first year, and contributing an estimated 1.1 billion yen (around $9 milllion USD) to the local economy overall. Not to shabby for a stray calico cat. If that doesn’t inspire you, consider these 100 Life-Changing Quotes to Inspire Your Days.
Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office
Ever since the 1920s, there has been an official cat residing at the 10 Downing Street, London, whose official title is Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
While the incumbent chief mouser may share the home of the incumbent Prime Minister, he or she does not belong to the presiding PM, and it is rare for their terms to coincide. Throughout the history of the position, there have been long gaps where no one was fulfilling the role, the most notable one being from 2009 to 2011, when rats could be seen scurrying around 10 Downing Street during television reports.
At the time, PM David Cameron said there were “no plans” to appoint a new Chief Mouser, but, compelled by a strong pro-cat faction in his party, gave the position to Larry—a cat that he and his family adopted from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. Poor Larry soon found himself to be the victim of nepotism, however, as he was sacked in favor of Chancellor George Osborne’s tabby cat, Freya. And entitled and inefficient feline, she was soon exiled, and Larry has since regained his proper place at 10 Downing Street. And for more on pets, here’s how to know whether you’re a cat or dog person.
The Dog Mayor of California
Bosco Ramos was a black Labrador retriever and Rottweiler mix who defeated two humans to win the honorary mayoral election of the unincorporated community of Sunol, California in 1981. He served the town valiantly until his death in 1994, and a statue of him was erected in front of the town Post Office in 2008.
The Lance Corporal Goat of the British Army
The tradition of having goats serve in the British military goes back to American Revolutionary War, when a goat wandered onto a battlefield in Boston and led the Welsh army in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Another goat, Taffy IV, served so bravely in the First World War that he was posthumously awarded several medals of honor.
In 2001, a cashmere goat born in a zoo but descended from the same royal bloodline as the original herd, became a ranking member of the regiment, and named William “Billy” Windsor. In 2006, he was briefly demoted from his post, for embarrassing the army by failing to keep in step and trying to headbutt a drummer during a parade celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 80th birthday. After the intervention of a Canadian Animal Rights group, as well as months of good behavior, he was reinstated as lace corporal, and retired from his post in 2009 before ending his days in peace. A baby cashmere goat was chosen soon thereafter, and named William Windsor II. And for more funny facts, here are the 40 Facts So Funny They’re Hard to Believe.
The Corporal Bear of World War II
In the spring of 1942, Polish soldiers who had left Russia for Iran came across a brown bear cub for sale at a railroad station. He was promptly purchased, named Wojtek, and raised in their refugee camp, where they fed him condensed milk from an old vodka bottle, gave him cigarettes (which he ate), and rewarded for good behavior with his favorite drink: beer.
As a well-trained soldier, he learned how to salute when greeted, and could often be found wrestling with his fellow soldiers. To get him onto a British transport ship when the unit was shipped to fight alongside the British in Italy, he was named a private, one with his own paybook, rank, and serial number. During the Battle of Monte Cassino, in Italy in 1944, he helped moved crates of ammunition and keep up company morale. Following Allied victory, he lived out the rest of his days in peace at the Edinburgh Zoo. A war hero and legend, statues in his honor can be found in Krakow, London, and Edinburgh, among other places.
The Dog Mayor of Minnesota
One of the few dignitaries on this list that is still a live, Duke the 9-year-old Great Pyrenees is serving his third term as mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota, having won three years ago in a landslide election after running on a platform promise of cuddles for all.
The German Shepherd of the US Air Force
Nemo was a German Shepherd who served in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. When his base fell under attack by the Viet Cong in the early hours of December 4, 1966, he attacked the enemy, losing an eye and suffering a gunshot wound to the nose in the process. Despite his server injuries, he crawled across the body of his human, Airman Robert A. Throneburg, and guarded it until medical help arrived. He survived, earning two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star Medal, and lived out his days on an Air Force base in the U.S. And for more American history, here are the 28 Most Enduring Myths in American History.
The Goat Mayor of Lajitas, Texas
Back in the ’90s, people came from all over to the small town of Lajitas, Texas to check out the beer-guzzling goat they had for a mayor. Elected in 1986, Clay knew how to beat the heat and mingle with the locals by knocking back a few at the local saloon, where he is now immortalized in a mountain display. He’s succeeded by Clay III, who can still slug them down just as well as his grandfather.
The Pig Candidate for American President
Although he didn’t win, it’s a pretty daring sign of the times that the Yuppies (Youth International Party) put forth a pig named Pigasus as their nominee for President of the United States in the contentious 1968 election.
The group was known for their theatrical counter-cultural gestures, so the pig was quickly seized by policeman after he was presented at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. Seven Yippies were arrested, the police allegedly saying it was because the pig “squealed on them.” While there is some speculation on what happened to Pigasus, some speculating that he was eaten by the policeman, The Chicago Tribune reported that he was handed over to the Anti-Cruelty Society and sent to live on a farm. And for more on lovable animals, here are the 30 Celebrities Who Like Just Like Their Pets.
The Dog Mayor of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky
In 1998, a German Shepherd named Goofy won the mayoral election, after citizens bought ballots for a dollar a pop and voted as many times as they wanted as a fundraiser for the town’s Historical Society. It might not have been democracy in its purest form, but it must have been effective since her his run was succeeded by a black lab named Junior and, now, a border collie called Lucy Lou.
Another decorated war dog, Sergeant Stubby served in the U.S. 102nd Infantry Regiment in World War I, participating in 17 battles on the Western front. A true hero, the Boston Terrier saved his regiment from mustard gas, held down German soldiers who were running away, and found/comforted the wounded. His incredible story will be told in an upcoming animated film called Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero.
The Cat Leader of Britain’s Official Monster Raving Loony Party
Catmando, alternatively spelled Cat Mandu, was joint leader of Britain’s Official Monster Raving Loony Party (OMRLP), along with his owner, Howling Laud Hope, from 1999 until his death by traffic accident in 2002. Widely considered to be the only cat to have ever been made the leader of a political party, the OMRLP proposed that all major roads erect cat crossings in his honor.
Russia’s Cat Bid for President
In March, Vladimir Putin will be running for President—again. And while his victory is all but written in stone, there’s another candidate that threatens to cut short his long-standing reign. Barsik, a Scottish fold cat in the Siberian city of Barnaul, has never been officially placed on a ballot, but he did win over 90 percent of the popular vote when he ran as mayor of his hometown back in 2016.
So popular is he that there are billboards all over the city that say, “The only ones who don’t vote for Barsik are mice!” He has previously announced his bid for president of the Russian Federation, and recently proposed taking back Alaska as part of is platform. After that, his plans for wold domination will almost be complete.
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