When M.K. Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation must be judged by how it treats its animals,” he definitely didn’t have animals in mind running the nations. But some animals have become political representatives and also extremely popular, etching their names in history.
These animals were nominated as electoral candidates, and some of them even won the elections becoming “honorary mayors!” Most of these nominations were by people who wanted to protest against the corruption in elections and politics.
Here is a list of ten times when animals stood for elections.
1. Bosco Ramos, a dog elected for the position of the mayor in a town in California, defeated two human candidates. He achieved international acclaim after appearing on a game show and remained “in office” until his death.
A black Labrador retriever and Rottweiler mix, Bosco Ramos made the town of Sunol in California really famous. The Bay Area’s first canine honorary mayor who won the election in 1981, Bosco defeated two human candidates and served until his death in 1994. He shot to fame in 1984 when the Daily Star wrote about him and the election describing Sunol as “the wackiest town in the world.” Another newspaper, a Chinese daily named People’s Daily covered the news about a dog mayor, criticizing the American electoral process.
The man who looked after the dog, Tom Stillman and Bosco appeared in 3rddegree, a game show where the panelists were asked to guess his occupation and they failed to do so. In 2008, Bosco was memorialized when a statue of Sunol’s beloved dog was erected in front of the town’s post office. (source)
2. A female black rhinoceros named Cacareco was announced as a candidate in 1958 in São Paulo. Proposed as a write-in candidate, she received more than 100,000 votes before being returned to the zoo.
Cacareco, a female black rhinoceros, was only four-years-old when she was made an electoral candidate for São Paulo’s city council elections in 1958. She was the face of a protest against the corruption in politics and garnered 100,000 votes which was more than any other party got in that election. A journalist named Itaboraí Martins had made her a write-in candidate when he was not satisfied with the other candidates who stood in the election.
Her foray out of her Brazilian zoo enclosure inspired the Rhinoceros Party of Canada, led by the rhinoceros Cornelius the First. Long after her death in 1962, the phrase “voto Cacareco” (vote for Cacareco) continues to be used for protest votes cast in the Brazilian elections. (source)
3. Pigasus, a 145-pound domestic pig, was running for the presidential elections in the United States in 1968. The Youth International Party that nominated him demanded U.S. Secret Service protection and White House foreign policy briefings for him.
The Youth International Party (called Yippies) had revolutionary views mainly inspired from the opposition of the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War and was anti-establishment. To make a point, they nominated Pigasus, a pig, as a candidate for the presidential elections in the United States in 1968. This 145-pound pig was named “Pigasus”—a double entendre on the horse “Pegasus” in Greek mythology and the famous idiom, “When pigs fly.”
U.S. Secret Service protection and other things that a presidential candidate gets was demanded for Pigasus, a pig bought from a farmer. Pigasus and the Yippies were charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting the peace when they transported him to Chicago. Their trial was covered in various esteemed publications. Nothing is known for certain of what happened to Pigasus. One of the sources states that he was eaten by a police officer. (source)
4. Over 400,000 ballots were cast for Macaco Tiao, an ill-tempered chimpanzee at the Rio Janerio Zoo when his candidature was announced for the post of mayor. Out of the twelve total candidates who were in the elections, he received the third-highest number of votes.
When Macaco Tiao was born at the Rio Janeiro Zoo, he had no idea that a magazine, Casseta Popular, would make him a candidate in the mayoral race as a protest. Very popular with the kids in the 1980s, Macaco was ill-tempered and would often throw mud and feces at those who came to look at him, especially at politicians like one Marcello Ancar.
With the over 400,000 ballots that were cast for him, he not only emerged third in the election but also got his name etched in the Guinness World Records as “the most-voted-for chimpanzee in the world.” However, since he was not a registered candidate, votes cast in his favor were declared null and void. (source)
5. A long-eared brown mule named Boston Curtis ran the election and won the post of Republican committee member in Milton, Massachusetts, USA. Fifty-one votes were cast for him. His “hoofprint” was stamped on all the papers that were necessary to register him to run after taking him to the courthouse.
Imagine a brown mule walking into a courthouse to register as a candidate for an election and instead of putting his signature on the documents, he puts his hoofprint. That’s not out of an animated movie; that happened for real. Boston Curtis, also known as the “The Milton Mule,” had 51 votes cast for him in the state’s primary election that made him a Republic committee member. At the time of voting, the 51 people who voted for him had no idea that he was an animal!
Kenneth Simmons, who was Milton’s Democratic mayor, was the brainchild behind the efforts which resulted in Boston’s election. He had two reasons for doing so. The first one was to embarrass the Republicans and the second one was to portray how the voters often have no idea whom they are voting for.
6. In the 2012 Senate elections of the United States, Hank the Cat joined the electoral race as a “joke candidate.” But when he came third with 7,319 votes, just behind the two major candidates, he received international fame and began to represent animal causes.
Cats have often behaved like “they were in power,” but one cat named Hank proved how cats were better than humans when it came to showing who is the boss. In 2012, Hank, a cat from Virginia, was nominated as a “joke candidate” for the Senate elections in the United States. Much to the surprise of Matthew O’Leary and Anthony Roberts who had made the cat “run,” Hank got the third-highest number of votes. He had run for the state Senate before running for the national one.
A joke biography was written about him as his candidacy gained international recognition. Through Hank, Roberts and O’Leary were able to raise funds for various animal charities. That is when Roberts commented, “There are literally going to be lives that are saved with that. From our personal point of view, we got to share our kitty with the entire world, and that’s really great.” (source)
7. Clay Henry, a goat who was infamous for being able to drink up to 40 beers a day, was elected as the mayor of Lajitas in 1986. His popularity soared so much that he was given roles in movies along with many celebrities of Texas.
A goat who became famous for becoming the only mayor with cloven feet in the United States, Clay Henry was also infamous for his binge-drinking habit—he could consume 40 beers a day! In 1986, he stood for the elections of the mayor of Lajitas backed by Houston’s famous businessman Walter Mischer—and won!
By the 1990s, Henry’s popularity had soared so much that he began getting roles in the movies along with Texas’ famous celebrities like Willie Nelson. His photograph was put on t-shirts, and the people of Lajitas loved him. What happened to him, no one really knows. (source)
8. A chicken named Mae Poulet ran for the post of the Vice-President in the 2012 U.S. election. She teamed up with Satchel, a dog, who was running for the election from Nashville to make the White House their home.
Mae Poulet, a San Fernando hen had ambitions that most of us do not have—to become the Vice-President of the United States. A press release drafted on behalf of the chicken who was only three then stated, “Some of us are chickens or even people. The two parties have fowled things up miserably. It’s time for a real change.” A dog named Satchel was also running at the same time from the Bully Party, and they teamed up.
Poulet sold one of her eggs for 50 dollars at a fundraiser with actors Natalie Portman and Jason Alexander present at the event. She had her own spokeswoman named Charles Laws, an animal rights advocate, who told the media, “She seemed so nonpolitical when I adopted her.” Laws found Poulet, an orange buff Orpington hen. on Craiglist in 2010. In 2012, the hen was aiming for the White House and had become an activist too for animal rights. (source)
9. Duke (a dog) has served as the mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota since 2014, having won three re-elections. During one of the elections, his human opponent also voted for the canine.
It is rare to hear that a human was elected three times in a row and even rarer to hear the same about a canine. But Duke, a Great Pyrenees, made that possible. Since 2014, the dog has won three re-elections in the 1,000-population town of Cormorant, Minnesota and has been the honorary mayor of the area.
At the annual Commorant Daze Festival, Duke got 12 write-in votes in 2014. His human opponent, Richard Cherbrook, said that he too had voted for Duke. The dog’s feat made him known internationally. (source)
10. Barsik, a cat in Barnaul, Siberia, won a mayoral race in 2016 by gaining 91.2% of the total votes cast with the rest going to the human candidates. His campaign slogan was, “Only mice don’t vote for Barsik!”
When your election campaign’s slogan is “Only mice don’t vote for Barsik!”, who wouldn’t vote for you? Barsik, a cat in Siberia, won in the mayoral elections that had six other human candidates by gaining 91.2% of the 5,400 votes that were cast in that election in 2016. The cat was found to be more trustworthy and able than the other human candidates.
The Russian opposition supported Barsik and called it an “effective protest.” The poll where Barsik was nominated in was unofficial and a form of a protest by the people of Barnaul against corruption in politics. From 2010-2015, the city had not voted for its own mayor because the central government used to appoint one. Barsik was well-suited for the job, apparently! (source)