Incredible Animal Photos From The Old Days
Animals have always fascinated mankind and these great beasts have been used as companions, as workers, as laborers, as mascots and more. History is full of great photos of animals and some are relatively unknown to most animal lovers. This collection of incredible animal photos features shots taken from around the world. Here you can see dogs, elephants, pigeons, and other creatures in historical images form the past.
Pigeon Equipped with a Camera, 1910
A pigeon is equipped with a camera to take aerial pictures for survey purposes in France, circa 1910. Pigeons were first used to take aerial photographs in 1907 when the practice was pioneered by Julius Neubronner. Neubronner gained instant fame for his invention, and the pigeons were even considered for use by the military, but they didn’t end up using the birds; he did, however, receive two gold medals at the 1910 and 1911 Paris air shows.
Dinosaurs on the Hudson, 1964
A barge transports dinosaur figures along the Hudson River en route to New York City’s World Fair in 1964. The dinosaurs were part of Dinoland, a display by Sinclair Oil, as the company had a brontosaurus as their mascot. A total of nine life-size dinosaurs had been sculpted by New York’s Louis Paul Studios and some even opened their mouth animatronically. The 1964 fair is particularly known for its Disney influence, as the attractions “It’s a Small World” and “The Carousel of Progress” debuted there.
Welsh Boy and Sheep, 1936
A young Welsh boy, name unknown, holds a lamb in 1936. Sheep farming dates back as far as the 13th century in Wales, and is still a major part of their economy. Reports show that there are more than 10 million sheep in Wales, and the practice has been memorialized with Wales’ National Wool Museum.
Furry Friend Gets a Drink
A boy helps his furry friend get a drink from a water fountain in this undated picture. The little boy letting the dog stand on his back shows dog truly is man’s best friend. City drinking fountains used to be plentiful in America, largely due to concern for curbing alcoholism by the Temperance Movement. The ASPCA also spearheaded efforts to provide clean, safe drinking water for humans and their animals, sometimes installing a lower basin for dogs.
Jasper the Mine-Detecting Dog, 1944
Jasper, a mine-detecting dog has an ear injury bandaged by a member of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps in Bayeux at Normandy in 1944. The photograph was taken by Sgt. Christie. The Royal Army Veterinary Corps was part of the British Army, and this was likely taken during the Liberation of France in World War II.
Elephant House, 1927
A girl discovers that the elephant house at London Zoo has been closed while she totes her toy elephant in anticipation. The photo was taken in 1927, and the zoo was closed for the winter holidays. London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo, and that same year, had opened its Reptile House. Today the elephants have a bigger space than they did in 1927 and live at the ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire.
Tom Crean and Sled Dog Puppies, 1915
Tom Crean, Irish explorer and seaman, holds an armload of sled dog puppies in 1915 during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. The expedition was led by famed explorer Ernest Shackleton and it was Crean’s last Antarctic venture. Crean worked as the second officer on the trip, and was also used as a dog handler since the crew’s hired handler never showed. He had his own dog, Sally, on the trip, and she gave birth; these are likely her puppies.
Couple and Dog, 1910’s
A couple lets their dog stand on their shoulders in the UK, circa 1910’s. The dog looks to be a German Shephard, and is doing this stunt a few years before the most-famous German Shepherd, Rin Tin Tin, was even born.
Brooklyn Supreme, a Belgian stallion known as the world’s biggest horse, stands with two who are likely his owner C.G. Good and exhibitor Ralph Fogleman. The horse stood 78 inches tall and weighed in at 3,200 pounds earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Fogleman and Good would charge 10 cents each to spectators who wanted the huge equine, and though he was big, he was known to be gentle with a fancy for stealing candy and ice cream.
Blackie the Cat, 1925
“Blackie” takes her kittens across the busy Lafayette Street in New York City in 1925 as Officer James Cudmore halts traffic. The feline took her kittens across the street one-by-one as passersby and drivers watched on in wonder. Lafayette Street is located in Lower Manhattan and was named after Marquis Lafayette.
Boy and Puppy in Paris, 1969
A boy is tackled by his puppy in this photo on the Square Patio at Paris’ The Louvre in 1969. The photograph was taken by Robert Doisneau, a famed French photographer who published photographs in Life and other magazines of the times. The photog is best known for his work Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville.
Henry Behren and Feline
Henry Behrens dances with his cat in his home in Worthing, Sussex. Behrens was a traveling performer and sideshow act thanks to his unbelievable height of just 30 inches. He traveled with Burton Lester’s “midget troupe,” and although he isn’t in the Guinness Book of World Records, he is believed to be the smallest man in the world.
Ham the Chimp, 1961
Ham the chimp shows off for the camera after his return to Earth in 1961. Ham was on the Mercury-Redstone 2 and before his flight, he was known only as No. 65, so the press couldn’t print his name if the mission was a failure. Ham got his name from Holloman Air Force Base, or HAM. The MR 2 was launched from Cape Canaveral and Ham actually pushed levers and did tasks while in orbit. After his first successful trip to space, he lived the rest of his life at the National Zoo and the North Carolina Zoo.
Dog Lends a Paw, 1920’s
A little boy is stopped from falling into the river by his trusty dog, as the boy tries to get his ball from the water. Golf was rising in popularity in the 1920’s as the sport shifted from just an upper-class pastime to something that could be enjoyed by all. At the time this photograph was taken, Bobby Jones was the biggest golfer in the world.
Socks the Cat, 1992
Photographers swarm Socks, the Clinton’s cat, in 1992. The year before, Socks had made the Clintons his family by approaching Chelsea Clinton after she had a piano lesson, and jumping into her arms. Socks moved with the Clintons to the White House in 1993, and was the nation’s First Cat. The feline was the subject of several books, including Dear Buddy and Socks and Socks Goes to the White House in the 1990’s.
Panda Photographs Child, 1939
A panda bear stands behind a camera, preparing to “photograph” a young boy in 1939. The photograph was taken by Bert Hardy who was known for his work in the magazine Picture Post and as a war photographer.
Girl and Puppy
A three-year old girl kisses a puppy in this photograph by Bernard Hoffman for Life magazine. Bernard Hoffman was a documentary photographer who spent 18 years with the renowned publication. After he founded a photo development company. was asked to process film for the Kennedy administration to analyze the scene of JFK’s assassination.
Penguin’s New Friend
A young girl is delighted to meet a penguin in this undated photograph. Due to the setting, the little girl’s encounter with her feathered friend likely occurred in a zoo.
Llama in the City, 1957
A llama rides out the window down New York City’s Times Square in this photograph taken by Inge Morath in 1957. In the background is the Shubert Theatre, which was erected in 1913 and still stands today. The llama was named “Tina,” and was en route to ABC television studios for an on-air appearance. Tina was part of a photo essay Morath did on animal performers on TV for Life magazine.
London Zoo Penguin, 1937
A penguin is hand-in-flipper with a little girl as they walk around the London Zoo in 1937. Just two years later, the Zoo would have to be closed multiple times a week as a precaution during the World War II bombings.
Ducklings in the Hospital, 1956
A young patient is cheered up while in the hospital with a tub full of ducklings. The photographs were taken at the University Hospital in Ann Arbor in 1956 by Life photographer Francis Miller. Miller was there documenting the hospital’s long-running animal therapy program which they used to calm children and offer cheer. Other animals in the program included gerbils, dogs, bunnies, and even a calf.
Black Cats Audition
Black cats and their owners wait in Hollywood for an audition in a photograph by Ralph Crane. Over 150 cats showed up for their chance to see if they had what it took to star in low-budget horror flick Tales of Terror, an adaptation of three Edgar Allen Poe stories. A professional feline actor already had the role, but these other felines were sought as stand-ins and for publicity shots.
Blackie and Brownie Get Milk, 1954
Cats “Blackie” and “Brownie” beg to fed milk at a dairy farm in 1954 in this photograph by Nat Farbman. The pictures are from a pictorial for Life magazine and were taken in Fresno, California. According to reports, the farmer actually trained his cats to do this.
Sgt. Major Jiggs
Sergeant Major Jiggs, mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps, waits in a plane in this undated photo. The bulldog was adopted as an unofficial mascot by the Corps after the Germans called the Marines “devil dogs.” An English bulldog was depicted on a recruitment poster and later, the Marines brought a registered bulldog to Quantico. In 1922, Jiggs was sworn in and enlisted for life. He quickly rose not only to Sergeant but Major before passing away in 1927.
Bare Fare Munch, 1950
A waitress watches as a baby bear drinks a bowl of honey in a cafe in 1950. The image is by an unknown photographer and has been nicknamed “Bare Fare Munch.”
Eight-Week-Old Tiger Cubs, 1937
A trip of eight-week-old tiger cubs romp on their keeper at Whipsnade Zoo in 1937. The tigers were the litter of Ranee. Whipsnade Zoo is the largest zoo in the UK and opened in 1928.
Alfred Hitchcock and Leo the Lion, 1958
“Master of Suspense” and director Alfred Hitchcock offers tea service to Leo the Lion, the famous mascot of MGM Studios in 1958. The same year, 1958, Hitchcock made his film Vertigo, and then the next year, he made North by Northwest, his only film for MGM. Leo was the seventh lion to star as “Leo” in the MGM logo, and was the only actually named Leo.
Zebras in London, 1900
Zebras used to pull a carriage are parked outside The Royal Albert Hall in London in 1900. The carriage was driven by Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, and was driven to show that zebras could in fact by domesticated. Rothschild was a zoologist and opened his private animal museum in 1892.
Child and Giant Whale Shark, 1965
A child examines a giant whale shark in Botany Bay, Sydney, Australia in 1965. The whale shark’s appearance was very rare, as few had been seen, and it washed up in Bare Island. It was reportedly 30 feet long and had been washed ashore by a harassing fishing vessel. Whale sharks may be huge, but they aren’t known to pose a threat to humans, and will often swim alongside divers as a form of playing.
Elephant with a Gun, 1914
An American Corporal sits atop a Sri Lankan elephant with a mounted machine gun in 1914. The elephant-mounted machine gun hasn’t been recorded as a weapon so historians think this picture was staged for publicity. The gun shown here is a M1895 Colt-Browning.
An Elephant in London, 1936
An elephant eats an apple offered from the driver of a passing tram on Gray’s Inn Road in London in 1936. The photographer of the image is unknown and why the elephant was there is a mystery as well.
Feeding Polar Bears
A Russian man named Nikolai Machulyak feeds a polar bear known as “Mariya Mikhailovna.” Machulyak actually fed the starving bear and her cubs for months before the sight was photographed.
Boy and Boar, 1930’s
A boy holds the reins of a large saddled boar in the 1930’s. Other images of the same boy show him astride the boar and next to a donkey, so this is likely a posed photo perhaps at a petting zoo or animal park.
Manta Ray, 1933
The “Great Manta” on display after being “caught” by Captain A.L. Kahn on August 26, 1933. The manta ray in question is actually fake, because you can see the seam lines, and the anatomy is too perfect for a supposedly dead animal. Researchers have found that it was common to make manta models for museums and other events, and this one was likely part of that. Newspapers at the time proclaimed it a “5,000 lb manta” but now we believe this is actually a cast of a real manta.
Bear Boxing, 1914
For a time, bear boxing was a popular sport for spectators, and resulted in matches like this 1949 match between a bear and boxer Gus Waldorf. The match was held inside of a giant cage and bear won.