Into The Land of the Jackalope

People thought it was a joke, and I laugh, myself, when I hear tales of the North American jackalope.

A cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope, the first one really was created for a hotel in Douglas, Wyoming, as a joke by a taxidermist, who took the horns of a deer (not an antelope) and stuck them onto the head of a rabbit, and dubbed this creature the “jackalope”.

But there was a historical and a medical basis for the creature’s existence. The Shope papilloma virus could cause horns to appear on the bodies of these furry woodland creatures, and also, the horned rabbit appeared in medieval and renaissance folklore.

According to an article by Newscientist.com, there are five species of African antelope with bleak outlooks for the future. Their habitats are being threatened by development, and they are being illegally hunted for bushmeat. This is not the case for their cousin, the North American jackalope. In fact, the city of Douglas, Wyoming, issues hunting licenses for the jackalope, that are good for one day only – June 31st. Download your jackalope hunting license here.

At any rate, whether you believe in the jackalope or not, the threat to the African antelope is real, and one factor is economic uncertainty, in a place where bushmeat is a path to both food and income. Another factor – loss of habitat – may be due to ranchers moving their herds into antelope grazing territory. In fact, another article states that African antelopes may become extinct, and are on the brink of extinction, though it does not state how long the species’ may have until they go extinct.

And the majestic North American jackalope, known for echoing the songs of cowboys around the campfire, may now be very well singing for his antelope cousins in Africa, as they face extinction.

The science story that inspired this story: African antelopes ‘could become extinct’ as humans hunt them for meat and cut into their habitats with roads