What, you’ve wondered, is that crazy animal hanging over the bar in the Top of the Elks room? Is it a rabbit on steroids? A vicious alien creature captured by State Agriculture officials in a shipment of Christmas trees? Was it sniffed out at the airport by the Federal Agriculture beagles or TSA officers? Perhaps seeing it has convinced you to switch your next drink order to straight orange juice?
This animal is often seen around April Fool’s Day each year. The animal is properly called a Jackalope. Jackalope are said to be a cross between extremely large Jack Rabbits, often hailing from Texas, and small Antelopes. Specimens are very rare in Hawaii, with the Bishop Museum’s Hawaii Biological Survey having none in its collections. The Elks’ Jackalope is rather small for the species. Photographs often picture the Jackalope as towering over humans posed beside one of the tamer individuals of the species.
Stories of rabbits with horns go back as far as 1551 in Europe. The Elks’ Jackalope, however, has more in common with the animals widely recorded on postcards in convenience stores and gasoline stations in the west. The popularity of the Jackalope as a souvenir – in the flesh or on paper – rose steadily with the popularity of travel by rail and auto throughout the southwest. Although most travelers contented themselves with sending post cards of Jackalopes to their friends, occasionally vacationers took home the mounted head of the real thing. Douglas, Wyoming, bills itself as “Home of the Jackalope,” but the animals are found throughout the North American Southwest.
Elks Lodge 616 received a trophy Jackalope during the July 1983 Honolulu Grand Lodge meeting. The dedication plaque credits the gift to Thermopolis, Wyoming, Lodge 1746. Strangely, 616 Lodge officers involved in Grand Lodge events have no memory of the presentation. Fittingly, Grand Lodge tells us Lodge 1746 doesn’t exist!
Next time you’re in the Top of the Elks lift a toast to a rare species. It is well known Jackalopes are partial to carrot juice, and many have been known to take it with vodka, especially on April 1st of each year.
Anita Manning, Lodge Historian
Thanks to PER / Secty T. Yasuda for the photograph
Read about Jackalopes at:
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/000811.html The Straight Dope, Honolulu Weekly, 11Aug 2000, p19 OK, ok. Grand Lodge says they did exist, but they gave up their charter in Jan. 2000.