Tusk: the Razorback live mascot
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The wild hogs known as razorbacks native to the Arkansas wilderness bear no resemblance to the typical barnyard pig of today. The untamed razorback hog was a lean, feral animal that was ill-tempered. It fought and defeated anything that crossed its path, man or beast. Turn of the 20th century outdoor magazines lauded the razorback as “the most intelligent of all the hogs and is likewise the most courageous. . . . He has a clear, farseeing eye.”
This was the mighty animal that inspired Hugo Bezdek to proclaim his team had fought “like a wild band of razorback hogs” against LSU in 1909. To read more on the Bezdek legend, click here.
Except for rare sightings in the Australian Outback, the Razorback only exists today in the form of Arkansas’ players and fans. A Russian boar, which closely resembles the wild hog of Bezdek’s day, currently serves as the official live mascot. He resides near campus, and attends all Arkansas home football games.
Tusk IV, a Russian boar, which closely resembles the wild hog of Hugo Bezdek’s day, currently serves as the official live mascot. Tusk IV is cared for by the Stokes family of Dardanelle, Ark., and travels to home games and special events for the Razorbacks. Tusk IV is supported by the legacy program known as the Tusk Fund, and fans can participate by sending their support in care of the Razorback Foundation, Inc. Tusk IV enters his first full season in 2011 after debuting at the 2011 Allstate Sugar Bowl. He follows Tusk III, who is retired and still living on the Stokes’ farm.
There are only a handful of universities which maintain a live mascot program, and the outpouring of support for the current Tusk from the Razorback fan base is the primary reason why the University of Arkansas continues the tradition.
The tradition of a live mascot prior to Tusk dates back to the 1960s with a series of hogs that have proudly represented Arkansas. In addition to appearances at games, they have gained a reputation for fierce behavior.
Big Red III escaped from an exhibit near Eureka Springs in the summer of 1977 and ravaged the countryside before being gunned down by an irate farmer. Another live mascot, Ragnar, was a wild hog captured in south Arkansas by Leola farmer Bill Robinson. Before Ragnar’s spree was done, the mighty animal had killed a coyote, a 450-pound domestic pig and seven rattlesnakes. Ragnar died in 1978 of unknown causes.