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Winston Churchill spoke about very many things in his life. To me, the most insightful statement was this: “I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.” He should know better than anybody else, as he had cats, dogs, pigs, butterflies, swans, horses, parrots and even a lion for company. One man who’d surely agree with Churchill is George Clooney. He had a pot-bellied pig, Max the Star, as his pet for 18 long years before he turned his roving eye to his wife Amal Alamuddin. Choosing to spend many hours with unusual pets is considered therapeutic by stars. That probably explains why Nicholas Cage had a shark, an octopus and two albino king cobras. Or why Leonardo DiCaprio chose to cosy up to an exotic African tortoise.Elvis Presley also had a penchant for the quirky. Rumour has it that the rock star bought a wardrobe full of suits and ties for his chimpanzee, Scatter, who was later sadly poisoned by one of his maids. A piece of delicious trivia that would delight Karunanidhi and MK Stalin is that Elvis also had a horse by the name Rising Sun. When the Swiss Open organisers gifted Roger Federer, Desiree, a cow, they assumed that he would shower love on it. Instead he sent it to a dairy farm and had it slaughtered when the cow didn’t produce enough milk. Clearly, he was no pet champion. In contrast, history has been rife with examples of immense love. Josephine Napoleon (spouse of Napoleon Bonaparte) used to accord royalty status to Rose, her orangutan. Salvador Dali often took his dwarf leopard, Babou, wherever he went. Once, when Dali entered a restaurant, he was declined entry because of his wild companion. He instantly cooked a surreal explanation and said that his friend happened to look wild because he had painted his cat. That pawsome quip saved the day. Mike Tyson spent close to 4,000 dollars a month for the upkeep of three Royal Bengal Tigers (Kenya, Storm and Boris). No wonder he went bankrupt. Reese Witherspoon, however, takes the cake for unusual pets. She has two little donkeys (Honky and Tonky). Apparently, she’s one lady who can tell her ass from her elbow.

Anantha Narayan

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