Nearly a century ago, a stray cat wandered into the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan and decided to stick around. Hamlet might not have been the first animal ambassador, but he was one of the earliest.
Take a look at some of the world’s most endearing animal ambassadors.
Dude, an orange tabby cat, is on staff at the Delaware Museum of Natural History in Wilmington, where he clocks into work each day with the museum’s director of facilities, Chris Hayden.
Photo by Delaware Museum of Natural History
Book a room at Sunset at the Palms in Negril, Jamaica, and you’re likely to meet Betty. This lovable goat joined the hotel team in May 2017 as part of an exchange with a local farmer.
Photo by Sunset at the Palms
Lucifer, or Lu for short, is believed to be the oldest hippo in the U.S. (he turned 60 in January 2020). He's been living in Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Florida since he was four years old.
Photo by Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Gizmo has been the mascot at the Divi Little Bay Beach Resort on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten for more than 28 years, where she loves to hang out at her namesake Gizmo’s Bar & Grill.
Photo by Divi Little Bay Beach Resort
Norman serves as the smiling "Lambassador" for the Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, Vermont. Visitors learn about the state’s rural heritage while visiting with Norman and his cow, horse and sheep friends.
Photo by Billings Farm & Museum
The tradition of ducks at The Peabody Memphis dates back to the 1930s, when the general manager brought back some live duck decoys from a hunting trip and placed them in the Peabody fountain.
Photo by Preferred Hotels & Resorts
Esperanza, a loggerhead sea turtle, serves as the ambassador for the sea turtle conservation efforts at Xcaret Park near Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Photo by Xcaret
Visit North Carolina hired Mo as their official Dog Travel Agent. DogTravelAgent.com offers resources for finding the best pet-friendly spots for families and their furry friends.
Photo by Visit North Carolina
Born and bred in Hampshire, black lab Oliver Beckington was named after two bishops who once lived on the Dogmersfield Estate. He’s a fixture on the Four Seasons property.
Photo by Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire
San Francisco International Airport introduced their Wag Brigade program in 2013, bringing trained dogs into terminals. LiLou joined the team in 2016 as the world’s first airport therapy pig.
Photo by San Francisco International Airport
Denver International Airport operates the largest airport therapy animal program in the U.S., called CATS. While 99 of the 100 animal squad are dogs, there is one therapy cat named Xeli.
Photo by Denver International Airport
The London West Hollywood has two official mascots: a pair of English bulldogs appropriately named Winston and Churchill. Guests can meet the pair at their hangout in Hampton Court.
Photo by The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills
John Jacob Astor IV, the man who founded the first St. Regis in New York in 1904, had a dog named Kitty. Today, another Kitty serves as the animal ambassador at the St. Regis Aspen Resort.
Photo by The St. Regis Aspen Resort
Fearrington Farm has been a part of the North Carolina landscape for two centuries. A favorite farm animal among visitors are the black and white belted cows, or Belties for short.
Photo by Fearrington Village
No one knows for sure how pigs made their way to the uninhabited Big Major Cay in the Bahamas (they’re not native to the island), but a group of 20 or so pigs have become the island’s official greeters.