Celebs who owned illegal pets

Let's face it, celebrities just aren't like the rest of us, and neither are their pets. Even normal critter companions to the stars benefit from the high life, like the late, great Carrie Fisher's dog, Gary, who got to accompany her to interviews and on the red carpet.

But for many celebrities, your run-of-the-mill cat or dog simply won't do. Why have a basset hound hanging out the passenger side of your Ferrari when you could easily afford a chimpanzee or a kinkajou, right? However, exotic pet permitting can be tricky business, as the famous folks on this list found out the hard way.

Yes, of course we'll discuss Justin Bieber and the heartbreaking tale of his beloved capuchin monkey, OG Mally. But there are so many other stars who also broke the law in the name of a forbidden bestial bond. These are the celebs who owned illegal pets.

Sorry, Edward

In a move that surely made Team Jacob squeal with delight, Twilight star Kristen Stewart revealed she has a wolf hybrid dog as a pet. Speaking with Dave Letterman about the giant pooch, named Jack, Stewart said that he is "our oldest male." She then explained that raising wolf hybrids was her mom, director Jules Stewart's hobby, and ensured the late night host that owning wolf hybrids is totally legal.

Jules had to put that claim to the test a few years later when a neighbor accused her of "harboring wolves," which resulted in an ugly dispute between the women, according to TMZ. Jules eventually secured a restraining order against the neighbor, whom she claims "harassed" her and made attempts at enticing the dogs into wild behavior.

Jules later told Us Weekly that she "rescued" the pups and secured the appropriate licensing to own them. "They live on a large open piece of property filled with trees," she said, adding, "These animals are perfectly legal in the state of California."

But that's only conditionally true, at least according to attorney David Grey, who spells out that in the state of California, you can only possess wolf hybrids that are "second generation or higher." Honestly, we have no clue about the true genealogy of the Stewart wolf-dog pack, but if we had to guess, we'd say that nosy neighbor is at least part vampire. 

Biting the hand that stuffs you in a couture bag

In November 2005, Paris Hilton began accessorizing with a pet kinkajou that she named Baby Luv. However, her adventure into exotic pet ownership was almost immediate dashed by a warning from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. It turns out kinkajous, which are tiny Central and South American tree-dwellers most closely related to raccoons, are not legal to possess in California, where Hilton lived at the time.

But Hilton somehow circumvented the regulation, because in August 2006, Baby Luv made the news again after biting Hilton, as undomesticated rainforest creatures are wont to do. The hotel heiress relayed the story of the bite — she ended up in the hospital for a tetanus shot — on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2010, when she also revealed that she still owned two kinkajous, who now live in a "very large enclosure" on "her ranch" and who have "someone that watches them."

Hilton also told Kimmel that she has dogs, cats, a parrot, and a pig. Not to mention she's also flaunted other California-banned pets like ferrets, both publicly (above), and on her Instagram. Are we crazy here, or are we the only ones who did not expect Paris Hilton to secretly be the Jack Hanna of reality stars?

Munich is not here for Bieber's monkey business

Perhaps the most well-known story of illegal pet ownership on this list is that of Justin Bieber and his capuchin monkey, OG Mally. The tiny primate made international headlines after he was confiscated by German customs officials when Bieber "failed to produce required vaccination and import papers after landing in Munich," according to The Guardian.

The whole incident was painted as another example of Bieber's flippant, spoiled pop star antics, but he insisted that he thought Mally's paperwork was legit. Speaking about the incident with GQ, the "Sorry" singer said that everyone warned him not to travel with Mally, who had been given to him as a birthday gift, but he was naively confident. "I even had it written out that he was a circus monkey and he could travel and all that s**t," Bieber said, adding, "I had all the right papers. Things get twisted."

Ultimately, Mally ended up at Germany's Serengeti Wildlife Park (above), where zookeepers said he had trouble readjusting to normal monkey life, and assessed that he was "probably purchased illegally on the black market," according to babe. Fortunately, as of January 2018, Mally was "healthy and seems to be quite happy in his new home."

Owning lemurs is a luxury

According to the official California Department of Fish and Wildlife restricted species list, it is illegal to possess all species of primates, which the lemur genus falls under. Of course, ownership permits are sometimes granted, but only for "a specific legal purpose — such as training monkeys to perform in film and television productions or for use in medical research," according to Shouse California Law Group.

So, how is it that actress Kirstie Alley came to possess 14 ring-tailed lemurs as pets at her Los Angeles home? It's kind of unclear, although Alley did tell SFGate that in 2010 that she spent $40,000 a year and employed "two full-time zookeepers" to care for what was then only a "conspiracy" — yes, that's what a group of lemurs is called — of nine of the little guys.

Given that level of financial investment, and the fact that Alley started out as a lemur mama via conservation efforts in Madagascar, it's probably safe to assume she filed the appropriate paperwork. Maybe she could let Justin Bieber adopt one? Nah, on second thought, that's probably not a good idea.

Is owning a monkey really worth jail time?

Like his pop music compatriot, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown wasn't able to hold onto his monkey either. After Brown posted an Instagram video of his daughter, Royalty, snuggling his brand new capuchin monkey, Fiji, the "Kiss Kiss" singer faced intense backlash from fans who thought it was a gift for the 3-year-old.

According to USA Today, this triggered a Fish and Wildlife department investigation, which determined that Brown failed to secure a permit for Fiji. As a result, agents "served a warrant" at Brown's house, and confiscated Fiji. Though Brown willingly arranged for Fiji's transfer into state custody, he was said to be facing "a misdemeanor charge carrying a potential six-month jail sentence."

Reached for comment on the matter by TMZ, Brown's attorney reportedly said, "As I leave my office in Downtown L.A. and walk past people sleeping on the street on my way to defend people charged by the City Attorney with selling medical marijuana … now spending taxpayer money on investigating monkey business, this completes the circle on his absurdity." Wow, what a righteous defense for a rich musician who was either too lazy or to ignorant to fill out some paperwork.

The King... of bad pet ownership

Guilty of another non-compliant primate possession is The King himself, Elvis Presley. As a bit of a disclaimer, we should say right up front that we're unsure whether Elvis ever got a permit (or if one was even needed back in the 60s) for his pet chimpanzee, Scatter. But according to Marty Lacker, Billy Smith, and Lamar Fike, who were members of Elvis' so-called "Memphis Mafia," the chimp was such a problem that he was "banned from Bel Air."

Speaking with author Alana Nash for her oral history of the "Hound Dog" singer, Elvis and the Memphis Mafia, Smith said Scatter "got loose" in the affluent Los Angeles community and wreaked havoc on a neighbor's dinner party. But that's just scratching the surface of the animal's antics. Not only did Elvis and the crew allow Scatter to drink alcohol, they also encouraged his wild behavior which included trashing hotel rooms and harassing women. Also, when Scatter got out of line, he was beaten. Fike described how he once tried to kill Scatter by placing him in a bathtub full of water, and shocking him with a "cattle prod." Fike also said Elvis once hit Scatter with a pool stick so hard that he "saw stars."  

Sadly, Scatter died after being banished to an outdoor cage behind Elvis' Memphis mansion. "He couldn't stand being left alone after all the attention he'd gotten," Fike said. "He died out there by himself hanging on to the side of the cage."

The point here is that even if Elvis had legally acquired and owned Scatter, he certainly didn't foster an appropriate living environment for the animal.

No tiger for Tyga

Scoring absolutely zero points for originality, rapper Tyga got busted for illegal possession of — you guessed it — a tiger. Seriously, wouldn't the stronger move here have been a lion cub, or even an exotic pet from a non-feline species? No one would have seen that coming.

Anyway, according to TMZ, Tyga kept the 7-month-old apex predator at his Ventura County, Calif. home, where he reportedly "took good care" of it. However, the "Rack City" rapper was somehow not aware that it in California, it is illegal to keep a tiger in one's home without the proper permitting and facilities. After he started posting pics of the big cat to Instagram (which have all been deleted), word must have gotten out to the neighbors, because for some reason Tyga took it upon himself to relocate the animal to "a private animal shelter."

Fish and Wildlife authorities then moved the cat, now named Maverick, to "a state facility," and sought to charge him with the same crime and penalties as Chris Brown faced: a misdemeanor and a possible six-month jail stint.

Luckily for Tyga, he was able to duck the charges by simply moving from his house, because apparently the folks at Fish and Wildlife are better at tracking animals than they are at locating rappers who somehow have no fear of being mauled to death. Maverick (above) now lives happily at Lions, Tigers & Bears animal rescue in Alpine, Calif.

Starving a gator does not sound like a brilliant plan

In February 2015, Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Terrence Cody was indicted on charges of aggravated animal cruelty after it was determined that his dog, a bull mastiff named Taz, died from starvation and neglect. Horrific as that is, bull mastiffs are perfectly legal to possess in Maryland, where Cody lived at the time, however, the alligator he also kept in his house — that he also allegedly starved and neglected — was not.

According to Cody's indictment, prosecutors accused him of not only illegally importing the giant reptile into the state, but also "failing to provide" it with proper food, drink, shelter, or veterinary care. Cody was cut from the Ravens on the same day of the indictment, and, according to The Baltimore Sun, ended up skirting the most serious charges, two felony counts of animal cruelty, but was convicted of five misdemeanor neglect charges regarding Taz, as well as charges relating to the neglect and illegal possession of the gator.

Cody ended up serving six months of his nine month sentence, then started 18 months probation, during which time he was barred from owning animals, according to TMZ.