From boyhood, Theodore Roosevelt, or Teedie* as he was called by his family, had a passion for animals. This passion showed itself in many ways.
He always had a small menagerie of both live and non-live animals as a child. He even studied a decaying seal when he was still a boy. He wanted to study and understand animals, and learn what was inside and outside of them, and how they behaved in the wild. Even then he was a budding 'naturalist.'
He briefly considered being a professional natuaralist when in college at Harvard. He never let go of that passion and over the years he became an expert at identifying all kinds of animals, from bugs to big game.
He loved being with animals and was a crusader for conservation of both animals and their habitats.
He also hunted.
This may seem odd to some people today. But hunting was a way of life for many during TR's time. One common way of getting familiar with animals during his time was hunting.
TR took expeditions to Maine and the western states looking for game. But, particularly when he got to North Dakota, he saw that much of the game, the bison for example, was gone! That discovery fueled his eventual partnership with others to found the "Boone and Crocket Club" and lead him to fight for 'bag limits' and habitat preservation.
Only 50 years old when he left the Presidency, TR went looking for adventure on Safari in Africa. As a naturalist, he was fascinated with all the species of animals on earth, not just those in America. Through his expertise, hundreds of species were identified and brought back to the Smithsonian and to the American Museum of Natural History from his 1909-1910 expedition to East Africa with son Kermit .
In a note in Scribner's Magazine from September 1913, the 'naturalist' Roosevelt comments,
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* "Teedie" was his family nickname - he hated to be called Teddy