Tuesday, June 14, 2011

THE JACKRABBITS OF ODESSA, TEXAS

Do you remember when I told you about the herd of colorful bison in Oklahoma City?  Well, my friend and faithful blog reader, Aunt Ann, wrote a comment to tell me that in Odessa, Texas, which is near where she used to live, they have big, colorful jackrabbits all over town.  So because it is the Year of the Rabbit, I did some research on this topic, and I found pictures of the jackrabbits in Odessa, and now I am going to share some of these pictures with you.

But first I will tell you that a jackrabbit is not really a rabbit.  A jackrabbit is a hare.  And the difference between a rabbit and a hare is that a hare has longer ears and longer legs than a rabbit has.  Also, rabbits live in burrows in the ground, and hares make a little scooped-out nest on top the ground.  Hares are born with fur and with their eyes open, and rabbits are not.  The way that jackrabbits got their name is that they reminded people of burros, because of their long ears.  So people started calling them "jackass rabbits," and later just "jackrabbits."

Anyway, it turns out that the city of Odessa already had a jackrabbit statue before they got all the painted ones.  This statue was called the "World's Largest Jack Rabbit," and the man who had the idea to make it was former Attorney General John Ben Shepperd, when he was the Odessa Chamber of Commerce president in 1962.  Everyone liked the idea of having a statue, and since there are so many jackrabbits in Texas, that's what kind of statue they decided to get.  It's made of fiberglass, and it's 8 feet tall.

The jackrabbit statue cost $2,300 to make, and it is named Jack Ben Rabbit.  One time some school children tried to get a mate for the jackrabbit because they thought he looked lonely.  But they did not succeed in this.  Another time some people tried to steal the statue, so now it is bolted to a cement slab.  Lots of tourists come to see the jackrabbit and have their picture taken with it.  Close to the statue, there is a historical marker, and here's what it says:

                         THE JACKRABBIT
True plains Rabbit.  Lives only in the west.  Burro-like ears gave him his name.  Color is protective, blending with sand and dry grass.  Very long legs make him a swift runner, clocked at speeds to 45 miles an hour.  Object of hunts with Greyhounds.  Was prized by plains Indians for food and fur.  To white man a reminder of desert-hard life.  In drouth and depression, meat source for thousands.  Subject of tall tales.  Actual hero of world's only Jackrabbit Rodeo, in Odessa, May 1932.

Anyway, so now there are a whole lot of jackrabbits in Odessa.  They are all over town, and they are painted all different colors.  A lot of them are painted to go with the business that sponsored them.  You can see more jackrabbit pictures on this website.  The photos were posted there in 2006, so I guess that is the year these jackrabbits first hopped into town.










I like looking at the pictures of the jackrabbits, but they are way taller than a basenji such as myself, so I'm not sure I'd like to see them up close and personal.  I know they are not supposed to be real, but what if it turned out they were?  I would hate to be eaten by a giant bunny!

11 comments:

  1. Lucky would've LOVED this, of course, I do too!
    Tas

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  2. Dear Piper,
    I am impressed with your research on Odessa's jackrabbits! I am glad you were interested in them.
    Has anyone told you about jackalopes? They are a cross between jackrabbits and antelopes. They look just like jackrabbits with little antlers :)
    Your fan,
    Ann

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  3. Dear Ann,
    Yes, I know all about jackalopes, and I even wrote a whole blog entry about them back in 2009. You can read it here: http://piperbasenji.blogspot.com/search?q=jackalopes
    A lot of people don't believe in jackalopes, but I still think they might be real, and they should be avoided!
    Your friend, Piper

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  4. Dear Piper,
    I just read your blog about jackalopes, and I must say I am very impressed by the depth of your research! I did not know about Albrecht Dürer's painting.
    Your friend,
    Ann

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  5. My Chief Research Assistant (a.k.a. Mom) does some pretty good work, at least part of the time. She and I were both rather shocked to find out that Albrecht Dürer had painted a jackalope!

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  6. Have you seen the cows in Plainview, TX? http://www.phylliswall.com/photos/plainviews_cows/index.html
    Painted and placed in 2000 for a tourist attraction.
    Donna

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    Replies
    1. Dear Donna,
      I like the pictures of the Plainview cows. We had a Cow Parade in Kansas City in 2001, but I can't find a website that shows the pictures of the cows. I think the sites have all been taken down, which is sad.
      Sincerely, Piper

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  7. I'd rather see a horn toad all over town.

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  8. What to see how those rabbits were made?
    Here are some photos of the project from foam to clay!!!!
    Too cool that you like them!
    http://www.utpb.edu/cas/academic-departments/visual-and-performing-arts-department/visual-arts/faculty-staff/chris-stanley/photo-galleries/bunny1

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    Replies
    1. Thanks very much for the link, Chris. The process is very interesting!

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