16 Celebrities Who Have Kept Illegal Animals As Pets

Do you fancy yourself an animal lover? How about an exotic animal lover? Do you love learning about non-native animals, getting all the info you can about them online and even daydream about possibly having one as your new BFF? Then you can probably understand that the latest animal craze from hedgehogs to sugar gliders and ferrets can cause flurries of impulsive and probably not well thought-out decisions. While there is growing controversy over keeping wild animals captive, it can be hard to resist a YouTube video of a little monkey sleeping soundly or a baby fennec fox scampering around. Who hasn’t seen a Facebook post of a little creature resembling a Pokemon doing something adorable and immediately thought, “I must have one!”

When it comes to celebrities who have access to seemingly unlimited funds and provisions, their ability to resist the temptation of obtaining some of these charming yet illegal by state law cuties may be harder than ours. Certain states in America allow wildlife and exotic animals to be kept as pets without restriction, but Tinseltown’s California has strict laws. While some of these animals are legal only with a special permit and licensing, others are downright forbidden.

If you’re a George Clooney fan but loved his beloved pet pig Max more (RIP Max), this list is for you. Grab your nearest legal beagle and sink your fangs into this. Here are sixteen illegal animals and the celebrities who couldn’t resist their cuteness.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

16 Tori Spelling And Coco Chanel, The Silkie Bantam Chicken 


Actress and author Tori Spelling is one to know the finer things in life. After all, her father, famed producer Aaron Spelling, once had plans to build a zoo for Tori and her brother, Randy, during their childhood. Although those plans were eventually scrapped, it seems that Tori never lost the dream as she has not only a pig and a goat, but a Silkie Bantam Chicken living life in the lap of luxury with her. Tori has reported that Coco Chanel Spelling has her very own Sherpa-lined bed right next to hers and sleeps like a baby until Tori wakes. She refers to her baby as a “lap chicken” and carries the fluffy chicken around with her everywhere, usually in outfits that match her own. This lucky little hen has even attended A-list events with Tori. Birds of a rich and famous feather really stick together!

If you think you’d like a feathered best friend like Tori's, it’s best to check with the laws and ordinances in your city as several have strict rules while others ban the keeping of chickens altogether.

15 Steven Tyler And Bandit, The Raccoon


Steven Tyler didn’t want to miss a thing during his New Hampshire childhood. He embraced all that the New England state had to offer and even had a raccoon as a pet. His procyonidae buddy, Bandit often rode on his shoulder and Tyler has been quoted as saying, “I grew up in New Hampshire. My closest neighbor was a mile away. The deer and the raccoons were my friends. So I would spend time walking through the woods, looking for the most beautiful tropical thing that can survive the winter in the woods in New Hampshire.” Although keeping raccoons as pets is technically legal in New Hampshire with a proper permit, the crafty little animals are illegal in twenty-one states. Tyler joins late former First Lady Grace Coolidge as a raccoon fan. Mrs. Coolidge had her beloved Rebecca during President Coolidge's term in the White House. Now that’s livin’ on the edge!

14 Kristen Stewart And Jack, Her Wolf Hybrid


Is it a dog? Is it a wolf? It’s both! And Kristen Stewart loves them. Her mother, Jules’ love for wolf hybrids has apparently rubbed off on the actress. The Stewart’s pack consists of Lola, Lily and Tommy and it appears that Kristen and her mother sort of share custody of Jack. Jules found herself in a bit of legal drama in 2013 when a neighbor complained that she was raising wolves. While both Jules and Kristen insist that their hybrids are completely legal in the golden state, California law advises, “wolves and first generation wolf hybrids are restricted from possession.” Private ownership of wolf hybrids is also restricted in Florida, where Jules purchased her wolf pack (wolf hybrids typically cost around $1k each) so we’re not really sure how the Stewarts got around that one, but we are pretty certain that she’s secretly pledged allegiance with Team Jacob.

13 Reese Witherspoon And Honky and Tonky, The Miniature Donkeys


Bend, snap and hee-haw! Legally Blonde actress Reese Witherspoon traded her on-screen pal Bruiser Woods, the chihuahua, for a pair of miniature donkeys in 2010. Their names? Honky and Tonky! Reese is quite the animal lover. Along with Honky and Tonky, she has two pigs, three goats, twenty chickens as well as canine companions to ensure that there is never a dull moment at her lovely Los Angeles home.

There is some gray area when it comes to keeping donkeys as pets in California but if you’d like a donkey pal or two like Reese, it’s important to know that space is key. A basic municipal pet limit for California states that one horse, pony, donkey or mule is permitted per 20,000 square feet. Good thing Reese has plenty of room to spare! She also has helping hands when it comes to cleaning up after her little farm friends… she makes her kids clean up after them. While Reese claims that the work is good for her kids, we’re pretty sure that they’d rather clean up after bitty co-star Bruiser.

12 Lisa Vanderpump And Hanky and Panky, The Swans


What do you do when you’re rich and famous and in need of an animal companion or two? Have your very own Swan Lake, of course! Take it from Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules star, Lisa Vanderpump. Her lovely feathered duo of swans are Hanky and Panky. Hey, maybe she got inspiration from Reese’s Honky and Tonky! Like Reese, Lisa actually has a viable farm herself with several dogs, turtles, koi fish and six other swans, although Hanky and Panky are the only ones which she babied and will allow her to hold them. While she certainly seems to love Hanky and Panky and her dogs, she says that she has no emotional attachment to her several nameless turtles. Way harsh, Lisa!

11 Bella Thorne And Hercules, The Hedgehog 


Legalize him! Although there are several petitions surfacing around the internet to make hedgehogs legal pets in California, currently they are considered illegal or restricted pets by default as they are not on the list of legal animals for the state that actress Bella Thorne calls home. Too bad for Bella because Hercules, the hedgehog is mighty adorable! These tiny, spiny cuties are native to Europe, Asia and Africa. Prickly sweeties like Hercules are not unlike stars as they require a specific diet, hiding places for privacy and love the night life. We hope that Bella can keep up with this handsome fella! Hercules, Hercules, Hercules!

10 Vanilla Ice And Bucky Buckaroo, The Wallaroo


Bucky, a relative of the kangaroo and wallaby with a size in between the two, hopped his way into the heart of rapper and host of The Vanilla Ice Project. Wallaroos typically weigh around sixty pounds, have shy but curious personalities and can live up to around twenty years. In 2004, Bucky decided to give way to his rebel heart and broke loose from his home in Florida to go for a joy hop along with his partner in crime, Pancho the goat. Vanilla Ice was fined for not having proper permits for the duo, but eventually got them back. Hop hop, baby.

9 Paris Hilton And Baby Luv, The Kinkajou


Kinkajous are small rainforest mammals, native to Central and South America. Although some say they resemble ferrets or even monkeys, they actually belong to the same family as the raccoon and one little kinkajou named Baby Luv, also belonged to Paris Hilton. Baby Luv was toted right along with Tinkerbell, though it’s unknown if the two ever became best purse pals. Reportedly, back in 2005, there was talk of the California Department of Fish and Game coordinating with authorities to present Paris with a possible misdemeanor for harboring an illegal species. But before any serious legal drama could unfold, Baby Luv decided to prove that he/she is indeed a wild animal by biting the heiress in August 2006. Paris was treated with a tetanus shot (just in case) and Baby Luv was treated with a release to an animal sanctuary. Ouch. It’s probably best to stick to pups, Paris.

8 Miley Cyrus And Bubba Sue, The Pig


They’re one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, able to outsmart dogs, chimpanzees and three-year-old humans. Singer/actress Miley Cyrus agrees with fellow pig lover George Clooney that these pink, smart sweeties make great pets. Pigs have many pluses including being flea-free, odor-free, non-allergic charming companions who are generally inexpensive to feed. However, they are not legal in all cities. City ordinances vary accordingly and home owner associations can trump city zoning laws, so if you’re feeling pink porcine pride in your heart, check accordingly before bringing one of these adorable oinkers home.

7 Kris Kardashian And Suzy, The Chimpanzee


Leave it to the Kardashians to get Kontroversial when they arranged for three-year-old chimpanzee Suzy to stay with Kris for a while, apparently as an attempt to cure her of her “empty nest syndrome.” Like the many pets before (and after) Suzy, once the initial cuteness wore off and it was realized that Suzy was a great deal of work, she was booted out of the Kardashian Kamp and sent packing. The controversy arose when Kim posted several photos on social media of Suzy monkeying around just mere days after a chimpanzee attack happened at a private home… which is probably just one reason why chimpanzees along with other apes are illegal to keep as pets in thirty-three states.

6 Justin Bieber And OG Mally, The Capuchin Monkey


Capuchin monkeys like OG Mally are native to Central and South America, slightly larger than newborn human babies and cuter than any button. OG Mally and The Biebs used to monkey around all the time together, that is until 2013 when Justin took his best primate pal with him on a private jet to Germany despite everyone around him telling him not to bring the little monkey. There, he was fined by German custom officials for not having proper paperwork (though he claims he did) and OG Mally was confiscated. When Justin failed to provide the documents German officials requested in order to return OG Mally, the capuchin was reportedly moved to the Copenhagen Zoo for permanent residency. As for Justin? He’s apparently moved on and looking into obtaining his next monkey with much protest from animal rights groups. At this point, it’s probably too late for the singer to say he’s sorry to OG Mally.

5 Hugh Hefner And His Peacocks (And Mini-Zoo!)


Obviously Hef loves bunnies, but according to wife Crystal, he has always been a big animal lover and immediately after purchasing the then $1.1 mil. property which is now the famous Playboy Mansion in 1971, he began renovations to make it suitable accommodations for a wide variety of animals including parrots, toucans, pelicans, monkeys and peacocks.

Keeping these animals may be legal in California depending on where the property is located and proper permits may be required, but as an interesting legal side note, peacocks in nearby Arcadia have the legal right of way in all Arcadian roads including private driveways. It is also illegal to feed peacocks on public property. Talk about peacock-blocking.

4 Nicolas Cage And Moby and Shelby, The Cobras Plus An Acting-Enhancing Octopus 


From dinosaur bone collector to martial arts enthusiast, it’s safe to say that actor Nicolas Cage is well known for his... shall we say, eccentric behavior— and that isn’t limited to pets. Cage claimed to have spent more than $270k on a fancy pair of cobras which he named Moby and Shelby. If that’s not enough in the way of exotic (and pricy!) pets, Cage is also known for his pet octopus, which allegedly cost him somewhere in the neighborhood of a cool half million. Perhaps even stranger than his desire to own such exotic creatures is Cage’s claim to need the octopus to gain better acting abilities.

Cobras are illegal in at least nineteen states. As for our tentacled friends of the sea, they may be legal depending on certain states, but they are not advised as great pets. Take Cage himself, for example, who no longer has his sea creature pal. You don’t say!

3 Kirstie Alley And Her Conspiracy Of Lemurs 


Actress Kirstie Alley is a confirmed lemur lover. After all, Alley does have fourteen of the strepsirrhine primates living on her property. She has said that she became interested in the clever little critters after learning about the efforts to save rainforests in Madagascar, which lemurs are endemic to. Alley is committed to the care of her curious furry friends and claims that the warm climate in her Los Angeles home in quite similar to that of Madagascar. She also feeds them an all-organic diet, has a full-time lemur caretaker on staff and spends around $40k a year on their general care.

As far as bringing one of these ring-tailed primates home with you, you should know that there are some states that have no requirements, some which require a permit, some which have partial bans while some fully ban the private possession of primates. The state that Alley and her lemurs call home, California, is one of them.

2  2. Cardinals’ Darnell Dockett And Honey, The Alligator 


After a long and physically demanding game of pro football, Cardinals' defensive end Darnell Dockett goes home to Honey. Honey is not his wife or even warm-blooded for that matter! She is just one of his collection of alligators. He paid cash for the baby gator in 2014 who has the potential to grow to over a ferocious five hundred pounds. Honey joined Nino, the gator Dockett purchased in 2011. It is possible to keep one of these giant reptiles in Florida, where Dockett resides, as long as they were not caught in the wild, but usually proper paperwork and permits are required. The football player reportedly also has a tiger cub named Lil Buddy.

1 Holly Madison And Sid And Nancy, The Ferrets


Move over, girls. The ferrets next door are cute, sassy and named after Sex Pistols’ bass guitarist, Sid Vicious and his girlfriend, Nancy. Ferret mommy and former Playboy playmate, Holly Madison loves her furry duo so much that she constantly gushes about them and can’t stop showing off photos of them. She even had a house built for them complete with air conditioning, similar to the French Gothic “mansion” that she had constructed for her coop of nearly fifty chickens. It’s clear that this bunny clearly loves her animals, but love and money aside, ferrets are still considered illegal pets in California.

Sources: people.com, pet360.com, laist.com, dailymail.co.uk

More in High Life