While it may seem impossible for a little dog and a big cat to be best friends, that is exactly what happened in the early 1930s at the Sibley Park Zoo. Mutt the lion and Jeff the dog were inseparable from 1932 to 1942. While some worried that Mutt would harm his little friend, the two got along exceedingly well. In fact, many accounts from the 1930s bragged about Jeff controlling Mutt, such as when the dog broke up a fight between Mutt and his father.
Word spread about the unusual friendship, bringing attention to the park and duo from across the country. Even Richard Ripley of “Believe it or Not!” featured the animals in his newspaper comic. The zoo keeper at Como Zoo in St. Paul was so impressed by Jeff and Mutt, that he wanted to bring the pair to the World’s Fair, but they remained in Mankato. The two remained inseparable until Mutt’s death in 1942. Jeff was inconsolable and while the Sibley Park zookeepers tried to introduce a new lion cub for him to be friends with, it wasn’t the same.
TBT, or Thurowback Thursday, is done in partnership with KEYC News 12 in Mankato. To watch this segment live, tune into the noon news on Thursdays.