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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER NAOMI WEST: Jackalope Joe's

Some years ago, I was in San Antonio in Texas. I was investigating the stories of blue, hairless dogs which had been described as the chupacabras although they obviously were coyotes of some description. During our stay, my ex-girlfriend and I found a shop called Jackalope Joe's which specialised in the sale of those singular artefects called Jackalopes. When our new Texas rep Naomi (profiled last week on Corinna's blog)asked whether there was anything she could do for us when she and her husband Ritchie visited San Antonio, I asked her to go and visit the shop. The rest is history....

Citizens and passersby of the Western United States expect to see some interesting creatures: waddling, squinting armadillos, gracefully bounding antelopes, massive, meditative long-horns… but a rabbit with antlers? If you haven’t heard of the Jackalope, you can spot one on any given day in a small retail store located in San Antonio, Texas. Jackalope Joe’s specializes in the sale of this odd breed – all of them dead and mounted alongside the more commonly hunted horned creatures. You can even purchase a hunting license for the Jackalope, as its population is not likely to be endangered anytime soon.

Jackalopes are manufactured in South Dakota by Matthew and Brenda Pates. The business began over 40 years ago by a taxidermist named Russ Bachus. But it wasn’t just a moment of creative genius that inspired Russ to stick a pair of antlers on a rabbit carcass: the legend of the Jackalope began in 16th Century Germany, when rabbits with what appeared to be horns spawned rumors of a new breed. It wasn’t until the 20th century that scientists discovered Shope papillomavirus, a disease that causes these horn-like growths.







This fatal disease afflicts both Jack Rabbits and Cottontails.



The appeal of the Jackalope endures despite its sobering origins, and people continue to purchase these cuddly, horned oddities. Rachel, the manager of Jackalope Joe’s, says that much thought goes into customers’ decisions when choosing which Jackalope to buy: they study the eyes, the facial expressions, and even look for resemblances to family members.




"This one looks like Grandpa!” one customer exclaimed. Many buyers choose the Pheasant Jackalope, which sports a pair of wings, bird legs, and a long, vertical, feathered tail.






Another best-seller is the “couple”: a mounted Jackalope head with a Jack Rabbit head snuggled adoringly against it.

Children are especially enamored by the Jackalopes, and Rachel says parents often request that she “confirm” to the kids that the Jackalope is real. This deception brings children as much delight as the myth of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.



The popularity of the Jackalope among adults, however, proves that people of all ages would rather entertain a myth than concern themselves with facts. And what myth could be more entertaining than a bunny with a rack of horns?




Although some locals claim they have spotted live Jackalopes in the Texas Hill Country, probably the only ones you will see can be found at Jackalope Joe’s.

2 comments:

Lanette said...

ohhhhhh

I have not seen the pheasant jackalope.... that is highly interesting and would make great gifts for my boys who hunt.

Greatbeast said...

Don't forget the Jackalope's Germanic cousin, the Wolperdinger. They like potatoes, apparently.