Illegal Pet Mongoose in San Francisco

In 1902, U.S. Army Surgeon J. B. Hallwood brought a pet mongoose from the Philippines to San Francisco to give to a friend. Hallwood checked into the Occidental Hotel with his wife and the caged mongoose, which stayed in the hotel basement.

A friend told Deputy Surveyor Chauncey St. John, a regular at the hotel, to see an unusual animal from the Philippines in the basement. He looked at the mongoose and realized what it was. Aware the U.S. Congress banned mongooses a year before, St. John ordered the mongoose to be taken to the U.S. Appraiser’s store.

Then the mongoose was stored in a room storing opium. At night, the watchman heard an unusual noise from the room and was thinking maybe thieves were trying to rob the half-a-million-dollar opium.

After dawn, somebody opened the storeroom and found the mongoose’s cage gnawed open, an opened case of opium, and samples of tea scattered about. The mongoose apparently ingested opium and ran around the room, making a mess. The person tried to catch the mongoose, with no avail. Eventually, Hallwood was called, and the mongoose recognized him and was willingly caged.

Hallwood argued the mongoose had the right to be there. However, the customs’ authorities maintained they were following the law banning mongooses. The mongoose was determined to be illegal and was killed, and the death brought grief to Hallwood.

-Alice Kim

Article on Chronicling America

“Petted Mongoose Seized: An Island Export ‘Frisco Won’t Take”
The Hawaiian gazette., January 31, 1902, Page 6, Image 6


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