In its ongoing effort to strengthen the Razorback brand and traditions, the University of Arkansas Athletics Department in conjunction with Razorback Sports Properties has established the "Tusk Fund" to assist in the maintenance and upkeep of Arkansas' live mascot.
Tusk currently resides on the Stokes family farm in Dardanelle, Ark., and makes a two-hour trek up to Northwest Arkansas for every Razorback football game but the establishment of the Tusk Fund could allow Arkansas' current Razorback, Tusk IV, to attend more Razorback events such as basketball, soccer, baseball and many more of Arkansas 19 intercollegiate sporting events.
"The Tusk Fund is a voluntary way for our fans throughout the state and around the country to help us support our live mascot program,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long said. "The Razorback mascot is a powerful brand and is unique to the University of Arkansas. Live mascot programs are a special part of Intercollegiate Athletics and we want our program to be among the best. Our live mascot is an integral part of our tradition and serves as a great source of pride for Razorbacks everywhere. I'm confident that our fans' passion for the Razorbacks and for Tusk will result in the support needed to enhance our Tusk live mascot program."
How To Donate:
Any donation is welcome, and the money raised will Assist Tusk's caretakers with the feeding and well-being of Tusk II Provide Tusk with improvements to his home and facilities Enhancements to Tusk's ride with new trailer improvements Allow Tusk to travel to more Razorback home events Create the Legacy Program for breeding future Tusks, guaranteeing the longevity of the Razorback live mascot program.
You can call the Razorback Foundation at 479.443.9000 or mail your donations to the Tusk Trust Fund care of the Razorback Foundation (1295 Razorback Road, Suite A, Fayetteville, AR 72701).
History of Tusk
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 entered his first full season in 2011 after debuting at the 2011 Allstate Sugar Bowl. He follows Tusk III, who served as the Arkansas Razorback live mascot during the 2010 regular season. Tusk III died of natural causes on the Stokes Family Farm June 9th, 2014.
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.
Accolades and Media
The 2012-2013 UA sports season was one of the most successful and high profile periods in the history of the Razorback live mascot program and current hog mascot TUSK IV. The 400 plus pound Russian boar and his keepers, Keith Stokes & the Stokes family from Dardanelle, received significant national attention & exposure through several national media platforms plus a transportation upgrade that will continue to help raise the profile of one of the most unique college live mascots in America.
One of the main goals with the reboot of the mascot program in 1997 was to raise the awareness of the Razorback live mascot with Arkansas fans, SEC fans and college football fans across the country as well as the national media that cover collegiate football. Another goal was to maximize the live mascot from a marketing standpoint for the UA and to enhance fan pride and the fan experience. While the razorback is the only team mascot of it's kind on the collegiate or NFL level, it had not garnered the regional and national attention of other live mascots from other universities. Until 2005, very rarely if ever, did the the Razorback live mascot even appear at all in polling by sports magazines or national media or fan websites for the most popular live mascots. Many of those polls and lists would include up to 20-25 live mascot listings.
In 2012 TUSK not only made various top 25 listings but was listed in the top ten of multiple mascot rankings by various media platforms including Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report.
NPR Interview - History of Tusk