Rebecca the White House Raccoon

Rebecca the Raccoon, with friend

 

Too cute to eat? The Coolidges were known as an animal-friendly family, but White House personnel wasn’t too pleased with one particular pet of Calvin and Grace’s, for it constantly tore up clothing, particularly the First Lady’s silk stockings. This little rascal was a raccoon named Rebecca, and she was, as raccoons go, fairly well behaved, as the president stated in one of his press conferences.

Originally a Thanksgiving present for the Coolidges, intended as dinner by the Peruvian diplomat who made the gift, the Coolidges could not bring themselves to eat her but rather had a comfy tree house built for her on the White House grounds. The omnivorous animal had her meals – preferably eggs, chicken, and cream- in a White House bathroom. “In the bathtub, with just some water and a bar of soap to play with, she could amuse herself for hours,” wrote Grace Coolidge.

His daily work done, president Coolidge enjoyed a walk with Rebecca on a leash. But after the adventurous animal managed to sneak out a few times for a bit of sightseeing, the Coolidges feared for her safety and gave her to the Washington Zoo.

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2 thoughts on “Rebecca the White House Raccoon

  1. I am putting together a little article on unique presidential pets and have hit a bit of a bump. The majority of my sources have Rebecca coming as a gift from the town of Peru, Mississippi, not the country of Peru. Either is certainly possible. There is a species of coon (Crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus)) that lives in South America that is quite similar to the ones we have in the US (they are a bit smaller and sleeker. I can’t tell by the photos which Rebecca was). However, having lived in the (US) south, I do know that they eat raccoon (usually with sweet potatoes. Incidentally, in Peru they really like guinea pig!) Do you know anyway I can be sure, or is it a guess?

    • Hi and thanks for your question! Having been prompted by your question to fact-check, I believe I’m going to yield to senior Coolidge scholar David Pietrusza who also makes the Peru, Mississippi connection. http://www.davidpietrusza.com/coolidge-pets.html As I’m about to leave on vacation, I can’t do any more right now, but please update me on your article, which I trust will not only be interesting in its own right but also serve as a reminder I need to rewrite my own post. Thanks again!

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