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Gingrich on the election: It's a zoo out there

June 21, 2012 at 1:29 PM ET

Matt Rourke / AP /
Andy Messing holds his service animal, Dick The Dog, at a Florida Gingrich campaign event in January.

Former candidate Newt Gingrich recently spoke out about his thoughts on the election, suggesting that it may be time to "re-think the rules" of the political system and also suggested a potential new role for himself now that he is no longer in the running.

In an interview at the National Zoo, Gingrich said that while he no longer seeks the presidency, perhaps he could get a job in the cabinet as the "Secretary of Zoos and Museums," if such a job existed. For a man who visited eight zoos over the course of his presidential campaign, he's certainly qualified.

Gingrich went on to say that he finds himself renewed after a zoo visit, and that he loves elephants not only because he's a Republican but also because "elephants make me feel like I'm the right size." The former speaker of the house has said that before entering politics he wanted to be a zoo director or a vertebrate paleontologist.

He isn't the only politician with a love for animals. When Obama met first dog Bo, the family's Portuguese water dog, he said, "I finally got a friend," referencing President Truman's famous quote "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." Michelle Obama has even called Bo her son, telling David Letterman in an interview "I have two girls and a boy."

While Mitt Romney has been endlessly heckled about the time he let the family dog ride on roof of his car (an incident that appeared in a Gingrich attack ad), he has a history of campaigning for animal rights. During his time as governor of Massachusetts he declared September "Responsible Dog Owner's Month" and signed legislation against animal cruelty. Ann Romney's love for horses has been in the news, as TODAY.com reported this week that the horse she co-owns has qualified for the London Olympics.

Even though his 2012 presidential bid is over, Gingrich could've brought more than just horses and dogs to the White House — we could have had a First Snake! 

Here are some amazing animal encounters from Newt's history.  

Back in 1995, Gingrich welcomed exotic animals into his office on Capitol Hill when Jack Hanna, director of the Columbus Zoo, swung by for a visit. Gingrich ended up with a 50-pound Binturong bearcat balanced on his head. Hanna returned a few months later and Gingrich got cozy with a boa constrictor.

Joe Marquette / AP /

From a trip to the Salisbury Zoo in Maryland, Newt tweeted, “Just heard red wolves howling in response to local hospital siren — four wolves make quite a noise — fascinating — red wolves very endangered.”

Callista Gingrich /

In March 2011, Gingrich took to Twitter and Facebook to mourn the loss of Knut, the famous polar bear who died unexpectedly at the Berlin Zoo. “Sad news!” he tweeted, “Just learned that Knut the polar bear died suddently at 4 — (wife) Callista and I visited him in Berlin when he was five months old. He was cute.” He posted this photo with Knut from 2007.

J. Scott Applewhite / ASSOCIATED PRESS /

Gingrich shared his love of animals on "Larry King Live" in 1996 when he bottle-fed a white Bengal tiger. He was on the show to promote National Zoo and Aquarium Month, which is celebrated in June.  

TODAY.com contributor Jillian Eugenios would like to turn her office into a petting zoo, too.

More: Ann Romney's horse is heading to London for Olympic gold 

Newt Gingrich expounds on his love of snakes, elephants

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