Sometimes, very rarely, the natural world and the fantasy world collide. There was that roe deer with a single, unicorn-esque horn, and now, in a national park in Canada, there's the jackalope.
At least, that's what park officials have dubbed a snowshoe hare with four ears—two of which somewhat resembling a jackalope's antlers—that's been spotted around the Bruce Peninsula National Park in Ontario. It was first spotted hopping through the park's campground in the spring, according to Gillian Sutherland-Jones, a resource management technician at the park. Sutherland-Jones told me they don't know if it's male or female from the photos (and they tend to leave wildlife alone), but that it's probably young since such a distinctive rabbit isn't likely to go unnoticed in the park's busy campground.
"It is possible that the hare sustained some sort of injury, but given the uniformity to both ears, it is more likely a birth defect," Sutherland-Jones said via email. "The hare seems to be healthy and getting along just fine. The unique look of this hare could have an impact on its social acceptance (meaning its ability to find a mate) but snowshoe hares rely heavily on their hearing to escape predators, so we can assume that it is able to function well in its natural environment."
Curiously, the park is located about 90 miles north of a nuclear power plant on the shores of Lake Huron, so I couldn't help wondering if this mutation has more sinister roots. But Sutherland-Jones shot down that theory.
"We have no reason whatsoever to believe that there is a link [to the power plant]," she said.
Fine. But if the jackalope starts growing at an alarming pace and eating campers, don't say I didn't warn you.