Animals in Office


Horse Serves as Dignitary in Rome - Roman Emperor Gaius, also known as Caligula (who ruled the Roman empire from 37 to 41 AD), went out of his way to humiliate the Roman senate by attempting to make a horse a senator. Incitatus, Gaius’ favorite chariot racing stallion, was said to have been nominated for chief magistrate. Incitatus’ duties would have been to invite dignitaries to dine with him in a house outfitted with servants. It was also said that the white stallion was fed oats mixed with gold flakes, lived in a stable of marble with an ivory manger, and wore a collar of precious stones. Historians disagree whether it was all an elaborate prank to provoke the senate or a sign of Gaius' growing mental illness.


Billy-Goat Seeks Office in Brazil - In the 1922, disgruntled locals in Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil, decided a local billy-goat named Ioiô ("Yo-yo") would make a far better city councilor than any of the human candidates. When local leaders proposed removing animals from the streets, Fortaleza residents protested. Though he wasn’t an official candidate, many voters wrote Ioiô’s name on their ballot sheet. Unfortunately, the votes for Ioiô were deemed inadmissible, but nonetheless, the goat became quite the celebrity in Fortaleza. After he died of old age in 1931, Ioiô was stuffed and resides to this day at the Museum of Ceará.


Gorilla for US President? - Colossus G. Benson was a nearly 500-pound silver-back gorilla, one of the largest ever held in captivity, who lived at Benson's Wild Animal Farm in Hudson, New Hampshire. In 1980, as a publicity stunt for the zoo, Colossus was put forward as a presidential candidate for the Vegetarian Party in the New Hampshire primary. Colossus was driven to the state capital to file the forms, but he was kept in the parking lot on a truck trailer, since a gorilla walking free in the statehouse was deemed too risky. Instead, Colossus’s campaign manager, a chimpanzee in a white tuxedo, was sent inside secretary of state’s office with a note that declared the gorilla’s candidacy. Colossus’s human owner argued the gorilla was entitled to be on the ballot, as he a legal resident, born in the United States and that nothing in the US Constitution prohibited animals from running for president. Colossus was rejected—not because he was a gorilla, but because he wasn’t thirty-five and didn’t meet the age requirement. Colossus G. Benson lived to be 40 years old, passing away in 2006.


Republicans Endorse a Donkey – In 1938, in an effort to embarrass Republicans and make a statement about the inefficiency of the primary system, the town of Milton, Washington's Democratic mayor, Kenneth Simmons hatched a scheme. As there were no other names put forward, Simmons registered a mule, whom he named Boston Curtis, to fill the vacant Republican post. Despite knowing nothing about this mysterious candidate, voters elected Boston Curtis with 51 votes. It was only when the results of the uncontested election were announced that residents of Milton realized they had elected a long-eared docile brown mule as their new precinct committeeman. Simmons had taken the mule down to the courthouse and placed its hoof print on all the documents necessary to register it to run. The hoof print appeared on the records as a smeared mark. After the hoax was revealed, it was declared the mule had "returned to the democratic fold."



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