In "Tiger Man," Elvis Presley sings that he's the "king of the jungle" - and that's a pretty accurate description of the King of Rock 'n' Roll.
Elvis loved animals of all kinds. He had many pets during his lifetime - so many, in fact, that it would be a pretty difficult to name them all. We'll stick to a few of the favorites for this week's blog.
When Elvis purchased Graceland in 1957, he bought not only the house, but 13.8 acres of the surrounding land. That provided for a nice little farm for the Presley family. Elvis' mother, Gladys, had some chickens, and Elvis owned a turkey named Bowtie. Vernon, Elvis' father, raised hogs, and he smoked and cured pork in the old pump house that Elvis, years later, would turn into a temporary makeshift firing range (you can tour this building at Graceland). Elvis was given some donkeys, but because the fence around the property wasn't finished yet, he kept the donkeys in his new, empty swimming pool.
The Presley family added even more animals to their farm when Elvis, Vernon and friend Lamar Fike drove a limousine to Germantown, just outside of Memphis, to buy more chickens and ducks. Lamar sat in the back of the limo with the birds to try to control them, but they flew around and made a mess. They cleaned and fumigated the limo, but it was never the same, and the vehicle was eventually replaced.
And speaking of birds, Elvis once had a mynah bird that would repeat the excuses it heard about why Elvis couldn't come to the phone: "Elvis is asleep," "Elvis isn't available," "Elvis isn't here." One day the bird began repeating all of the phrases, over and over, which Elvis thought was hilarious.
Australian fans sent Elvis a wallaby - twice. Once was while he was filming "Jailhouse Rock" in 1957, and the second time was in 1962. He donated each of the animals to the Memphis Zoo. Elvis also had a few peacocks, but they scratched at their reflections in the shiny paint of his cars - so they, too, went to live at the Memphis Zoo.
Elvis owned several horses throughout this lifetime - in fact, you can read more about them here on a past Graceland Blog post. His favorite horses included Rising Sun, a golden palomino quarter horse and a Tennessee Walking Horses named Bear. A few of his other horses include Tennessee Walking Horses Ebony's Double and Memphis, as well as a mixed breed bay Elvis named Mare Ingram after Memphis Mayor William Ingram. Elvis once put his daughter, Lisa Marie, on her Shetland pony, Moriah, and brought both Lisa and the horse into Graceland for his grandmother, Minnie Mae, to see. It was a a fun idea, until Moriah had a little accident inside Graceland - which Elvis had to clean up.
Scatter was a chimpanzee that Elvis bought in 1961. He had previously been owned by a Memphis TV personality, Captain Bill Killebrew. Scatter hung out with Elvis and his friends, and Scatter even wore his own human-like clothes. The chimp's behavior eventually declined, and he became harder to manage. One day, Scatter ran away from Elvis and into producer Samuel Goldwyn's office, which he then destroyed. Scatter was escorted out by security and then sent home to Graceland.
Elvis fans, the Lewis family, gave the king a squirrel monkey at Christmas 1966. The family bought the monkey at the Katz Drug Store and named it Bambi. The family often spent time at the Graceland front gate, and Elvis sometimes invited them to go to the movies with him. They gave Elvis the monkey at the movies, and he and Priscilla loved it. Mr. Lewis eventually began working for Elvis as a gate guard.
Elvis had a number of dogs over the years. He had a Basset Hound named Sherlock, Great Danes named Brutus and Snoopy, and Edmund, a Pomeranian he gave to his aunt Delta, because the two bonded so quickly. Get Lo, a Chow, was another of Elvis' dogs. He was once flown to Boston on Elvis' small Jetstar plane to get treatment for a kidney ailment. He stayed in Boston for three months as he was treated, and then was flown home, where treatment continued. Sadly, Get Lo didn't make it.
Elvis also had dogs he named Whoosh, Oswald and Michael Edwards, named after Elvis' character in "It Happened at the World's Fair. Elvis shared his love for animals with his loved ones. He gave Gladys a tiny dog named Sweet Pea in 1956, and at Christmas 1962, when she was visiting from Germany, he gave Priscilla a puppy poodle named Honey. He gave Lisa Marie a cat named Puff.
If you want to know more about Elvis, come to Memphis and explore his home, Graceland. Check out his famous Jungle Room, see the horses we keep here at Graceland and walk through Vernon's smokehouse (and be sure to try some authentic, yummy Memphis barbecue at Vernon's Smokehouse, a restaurant at our new exhibit complex, Elvis Presley's Memphis). It's an incredible experience that every Elvis fan must have, so make your plans today.