Wall Street’s masters of the universe are known for their penchant for driving some seriously hot rides — Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins, Maseratis, etc.
But perhaps the most wild rides in the history of finance, though, belonged to the late Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild (1868-1937) of the wealthy British banking family.
Rothschild, who worked briefly as a banker at his family’s firm, used to drive a carriage around London that was pulled by zebras. He also used to ride on the back of a giant tortoise.
The New York Times described it in an obituary for Rothschild’s niece:
“Walter, the second Lord Rothschild, whose animal collection came to include (in addition to fleas) some 250,000 butterflies and moths, 300,000 bird skins, 200,000 birds’ eggs and 144 giant tortoises, which he housed in his own museum. He rode on the back of his giant tortoise Rotumah, drove to Piccadilly in a zebra-drawn carriage…”
Zoology was Rothschild’s real passion. At age 7, he told his parents he wanted to open a zoo. At 21, Rothschild’s wealthy banker father, Lord Nathan Rothschild, gave him money to open a museum. He did at age 24. Today, it’s the Natural History Museum at Tring.
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