Celebrities

Controversial Pets Celebs Gave Away

Who doesn’t love a good pet story? Especially when they’re heartwarming and inspiring. But sometimes the money and notoriety that are synonymous with being famous can lead celebrities to make some pretty wacky decisions about animals with whom they choose to share their mansions and their lives. 

Celebrities are known for making eccentric decisions when it comes to pets. Attention hungry stars with more money than they know what to do with often decide that purchasing unique, exotic, or even wild animals sounds exciting. But the reality is it isn’t always easy to acquire an unconventional pet — many are difficult to care for, and some are even illegal. Because of this, along with a variety of other reasons, many celebrities don’t hold onto their furry (and feathery and scaly) friends for very long.

Whether these famous pet owners weren’t prepared to give the proper care to their new companions, or they were forced to give them up by authorities, here are some controversial pets celebs gave away.

Justin Beiber's monkey was seized by the German government

In 2013, Justin Bieber acquired a baby capuchin monkey and named him OG Malley. The monkey was only 9 weeks old when Bieber received him as a gift, and was arguably too young to be separated from his mother. To make matters worse, Bieber soon took the monkey on tour with him. All was going fine until they arrived at the Munich airport in Germany, where OG Mally was taken into custody by German customs due to insufficient paperwork.

The Guardian reported that the baby monkey was placed in the care of a local animal shelter, where officials “criticized Bieber for keeping such a young monkey as a pet.” They also noted the overall lack of responsibility coming from Bieber and his representatives.

The German authorities gave Bieber a chance to provide the proper paperwork and retrieve the monkey, but he never did, leaving the monkey stranded in the care of the shelter. And since he never returned for the monkey, OG Mally eventually became “property of the German government, according to CNN. The outlet reported in June 2013 that the monkey was relocated to a German zoo with other capuchin monkeys who are likely better companions than a pop star and his entourage. Sadly, as of 2018, Mally was still having trouble adjusting to life as a real monkey after living as a celebrity accessory. Hopefully, the little guy will eventually find his place in the animal kingdom.

Chris Brown's illegal pet monkey was confiscated

Another celebrity, another innocent capuchin monkey. Like Justin Bieber, Chris Brown thought it sounded like a fun idea to have a monkey hanging around the house. But buying illegal endangered animals is some serious monkey business that authorities don’t take lightly. Brown is no stranger to controversy and doesn’t seem to get along with the law so it’s no surprise that the singer’s monkey saga ended in court.

After posting a video on Instagram of his pet capuchin monkey, Fiji, several people called the California Wildlife Department, reporting Brown’s possession of the monkey. Turns out, Brown didn’t have the proper paperwork and agents of the wildlife department confiscated Fiji.

Brown paid a high price for illegally owning the pet. CBS News reported that he was charged with two misdemeanors, which would only be dropped if Brown agreed to pay $35,000 for Fiji’s care at a facility and promise to never purchase another “prohibited species.” While we know tiny monkeys are adorable, there are plenty of other pets that are cute that won’t land you behind bars.

Beyoncé gave up her pet snake because it terrified her dad

When Beyoncé’s cousin was living with the Knowles family, they shared a pet python named Fendi. The two girls adored the snake and even let it sleep in their bed sometimes. But Beyoncé’s father wasn’t a fan of the serpent. “My dad, he’s a big guy and you know, he’s really serious [but] he was terrified of the snake,” Beyoncé said during a 2002 “Rove Live” interview. One day, after it got loose in the house and they found it dangling in one of the closets, he demanded that the girls get rid of it.

But perhaps Beyoncé never fully got over losing her beloved Fendi, considering she still seems to often seek the company of a serpent, like when she hung out with a python at her daughter’s birthday party, that time she posed with a snake for an InStyle photoshoot, and when she featured one in the music video for “Don’t Jealous Me” in her visual album “Black is King.” 

Michael Jackson said goodbye to Bubbles when he became aggressive

Michael Jackson’s famous pet, Bubbles, was a longtime companion of the pop star, who bought the chimpanzee from a research facility in the early 80s. Bubbles was treated as Jackson’s child, sleeping in a crib in his bedroom and eating at the table with the pop icon. Bubbles was an impressive entertainer in his own right, doing an impression of Mick Jagger and performing his own version of the moonwalk on Dick Clark in an adorable pair of pink overalls. He often attended publicity events with his owner, and even got all dressed up and walked down the red carpet at the 1994 MTV Movie Awards.

In 2003, however, there was growing concern about Bubbles’ aggressive behavior and Jackson decided to relocate him to an animal sanctuary. Bubbles eventually made his way to the Center for Great Apes in Florida, where he enjoys painting alongside other retired entertainment industry apes. In March 2021, appeared on the sanctuary’s Instagram in a happy birthday post for his 38th birthday.

After living the high life in the spotlight with the King of Pop for twenty years, the little guy deserves some peace and quiet as a retiree in Florida, don’t you think?

Cheryl Hines was happy to bid adieu to the family emu

Cheryl Hines ended up with a cute baby emu after her husband gifted it to their daughter. The pet, however, soon grew to be six feet tall and wreaked havoc in their household. In an interview on “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” Hines explained that their 120 pound dog would often “open the door” and let the emu inside the house, where emus should most definitely not be, considering their size and speed. But even when it stayed outside, the emu would annoy Hines by chasing her and guests around the yard. 

Understandably, the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star wasn’t too enthusiastic about being terrorized by a giant bird every time she stepped out of her home. In fact, she even confessed to repeatedly googling how long emus live (which can be up to 30 years) and laughed when Corden joked about it “accidentally walk[ing] into [a] knife.”

As another, arguably better present, her husband finally ditched the emu by relocating it to an emu farm. Hines is happier without it and we’re sure the emu is happier too.

Khloe Kardashian rescued, then rejected a stray peacock

The Karadashian-Jenners are known for going through pets like they go through handbags. The notorious serial pet owners have enjoyed the brief company of everything from fish to bunnies, horses to mini pigs, and everything in between. But perhaps the strangest one of the bunch was Khloe Kardashian’s pet peacock.

Kardashian rescued a wild peacock in June 2012 when her neighbors were allegedly going to call animal control to have it removed from the premises. Fearing the peacock would be killed, Kardashian took it in as a pet and named it Peter Pan. While that sounds extremely compassionate, just two years later, Kardashian sold the house to fellow star Kaley Kaley Cuoco and her then-husband, Ryan Sweeting — and she left Peter Pan behind.

Explaining the bizarre situation to David Letterman, Cuoco didn’t name Kardashian, but said the previous owner informed her that “there’s a peacock that lives at this residence,” and he must be “let in and out.” To Cuoco’s shock, she found the bird “sitting on the couch like he owned the place” during the walk-through before they purchased the home. Fortunately for Petey, Cuoco said he “officially joined the family and became known as “Petey the sweetie.” Unfortunately, Cuoco and Sweeting didn’t last, and they sold theirs — and Petey’s home — again in 2020. We weren’t able to find any updates on Petey’s current whereabouts, but we hope the new owners of the home were as understanding as Cuoco and Sweeting!  

Tyga's illegal tiger cub was taken to a sanctuary

Tyga, a rapper who you might be more familiar with as the ex-boyfriend of Kylie Jenner, owned a pet (you guessed it!) tiger for a brief period of time.

When Tyga purchased the tiger in 2014, apparently he wasn’t aware it was illegal to own the exotic animal in California, where the rapper resides. However, after posting photos of the new pet on Instagram, he quickly realized his mistake. By the time the wildlife agents arrived, he had already taken the young tiger, who was only 7 months old, to an animal shelter.

Tyga’s distraught cub was then relocated to the Lions, Tigers and Bears sanctuary, where he was named Maverick. The sanctuary’s website claimed Maverick’s story was a “perfect example of what happens when people decide they want a wild animal for a pet. Sure, they’re cute for a few months, but then the reality of the situation sets in. Wild instincts begin to emerge, they become hard to handle and pose an extreme risk to the community, leaving the animal to face an uncertain future.”

Unfortunately, Maverick was killed by another tiger in an accident at the sanctuary in October of 2020.

Demi Lovato gave up their sphynx cat after only one day

In 2016, Demi Lovato adopted a sphynx, or hairless cat, that they named Hairy-ette. Lovato introduced the feline to fans and followers in a series of photos on Snapchat that began with cute cuddles and ended with Lovato revealing they were having a severe allergy attack from the cat, swollen face and all. In one of the posts, they claimed they would keep it anyway.

However, a month later in an interview with Entertainment Tonight (via Daily Mail), Lovato revealed that they didn’t actually keep it: “I had to give it back the next day because I’m allergic.”

Lovato had bought the cat under the incorrect assumption that it wouldn’t trigger their cat allergy because it didn’t have hair. But cat allergies aren’t actually caused by the fur but rather from “proteins in the cat’s saliva, urine, and dander (dried flakes of skin),” per WebMd. While Lovato is no doubt a busy person, there’s always time to do a quick Google search before making the big decision of adopting another living creature, right?

Lena Dunham stirred an internet controversy when she rehomed her dog

Lena Dunham gave up her dog of four years, Lamby, after claiming she had struggled with the dog’s aggressive behavior. In a post on Instagram, the “Girls” star explained, “Lamby suffered terrible abuse as a pup that made having him in a typical home environment dangerous to him and others — we needed to be responsible to ourselves, our neighbors and especially our beloved boy.” She then confessed that she had sent the dog to a professional facility that specializes in behavioral issues. That facility then re-homed Lamby.

But the folks at BARC, the animal shelter she adopted Lamby from, publicly disputed her claims about prior abuse and criticized her breach of contract with them by re-homing the dog without their consultation, sparking some internet drama between Dunham, the shelter, and people with opinions in the comments section.

Dunham fired back in another Instagram post, writing, “While I’m sorry to have disappointed them, I can’t apologize.” She claimed the dog’s aggression was “unpredictable” and “unmanageable,” and criticized others for making a big deal out of it. “I have weathered a lot of micro-scandals but this one hurts MOST,” she wrote. Dunham ended her post by stating, “I know I’m a lot of fun to place your issues on, but I won’t let anyone hang their hat on this peg. Not this time.”

Elvis Presley's wallabies and peacocks didn't last long at Graceland

Elvis Presley housed an impressive number of animals at Graceland, his home in Memphis, Tennessee. Not only did he have a variety of farm animals, but he kept a few exotic animals as well. According to the official Graceland blog, The King’s menagerie included a chimpanzee named Scatter and “a mynah bird that would repeat the excuses it heard about why Elvis couldn’t come to the phone.” 

Knowing his love of unusual animals, Australian fans gifted wallabies to Elvis Presley on a couple of occasions. He even brought one of them on the set of “Jailhouse Rock” in 1957. But maybe his home was getting a little too crowded with animals because The King of Rock n’ Roll eventually donated the wallabies to the Memphis Zoo, which the organization later revealed happened in 1957 and 1962.

The “Hound Dog” crooner also had peacocks at one point, which are commemorated in the stained glass artwork in Graceland’s Music Room. However, speaking with Express, Graceland archivist Angie Marchese said that the colorful fowl soon joined the wallabies at the Memphis Zoo after “they started seeing their reflection in the gold Cadillac and started pecking the paint off the car.” 

Mike Tyson relocated his tiger that 'ripped somebody's arm off'

Mike Tyson had a couple of bengal tigers early in his career but he kept his favorite, Kenya, for about 16 years. On an episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” Tyson told the story of how he acquired the large cats, explaining he was “in prison at the time.” He purchased them over the phone through his car dealer who apparently traded cars for exotic animals, which sounds almost too crazy to be true. Nevertheless, when he got out of prison, the cubs were waiting for him at home and he raised them, holding onto Kenya for as long as he could.

The heavyweight champion told GQ Sports that he donated Kenya to a sanctuary. “She got too old and I had to get rid of her. Her eyes and her hip got bad. Plus, she ripped somebody’s arm off.” The tiger did in fact attack a woman who had trespassed onto Tyson’s property and started “playing with the tiger,” as he recalled on Fat Joe’s podcast. “It was a bad accident,” Tyson said, adding, “When I saw what the tiger did to her hand — I had a lot of money back then — so I gave her $250,000, whatever it was, because she was just f**ked up. You can’t believe what they can do to a person’s flesh.”

The whole incident was a wake up call for Tyson, who said he was “foolish” and now realizes wild animals shouldn’t be “domesticate[d].” 

P!nk gave her dog F***er to her father

In the early 2000s, P!nk had a reputation for being the bad girl of the millennium pop divas. So she was certainly staying on brand when she named her dog F***er. She seemingly enjoyed attracting attention with the dog, like when she took him on the red carpet of the MTV Movie Awards and bragged about shocking Beyoncé with the name.

Another time, P!nk lost F***er at a restaurant and she wouldn’t stop yelling the expletive in the vicinity of other diners, despite the fact that there were children at some of the tables and the patrons were visibly annoyed at the disruption.

Apparently her furry friend had some behavioral issues but with a name like F***er how obedient did she really expect it to be? A few years later, she gave the dog to her father, who renamed him Fred. After the re-homing, Fred appeared to start behaving better with his new name. In 2009, she told Cosmopolitan, “He is a much happier dog now. He still responds to both names but he’s much happier.”

Nicolas Cage's neighbors feared his deadly pet cobras

Nicolas Cage is known for being a little eccentric, so it’s no surprise he has owned several strange pets, including a baby octopus and two king cobras, a male named Moby and female named Shiva. In an interview with David Letterman, he claimed the snakes tried to hypnotize him: “I have them behind two computer locked doors behind bullet-proof glass and I like to go in there … in my red leather chair, you know, with a glass of wine and watch them as they’re watching me and sometimes Moby will sort of do this little charming snake dance and show his back to me.” The move was apparently meant to mesmerize a would-be victim, distracting the snake’s prey before a sudden strike. 

Cage told the The New York Times that the snakes weren’t very happy and really would try to attack him through the glass. After the Letterman appearance, the neighborhood he lived in expressed concern over the cobras and he eventually donated them to a zoo. Still, the deadly serpents had a lasting influence on his acting. Cage explained to the same outlet that he used their reptilian hypnotic powers as inspiration for his character in “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.”

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