FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas, home to one of the nation’s longest tenured and most recognizable live mascot programs, is celebrating the recent birth of Tusk V, the next in the line of Arkansas Razorback mascots.
Born Saturday, April 19 at the Stokes Family Farm in Dardanelle, Arkansas, Tusk V is the son of the current Arkansas Razorbacks’ live mascot, Tusk IV, a Russian Boar which closely resembles the type of “wild band of razorback hogs,” first described by then Arkansas head football coach Hugo Bezdek in 1909. The following year, in 1910, University of Arkansas students voted to officially adopt the new nickname changing the mascot from the Cardinals to the Razorbacks.
Tusk V will take over official mascot duties in time for the 2019 Razorback Football season, after his father, Tusk IV, is scheduled to retire.
“It is hard to imagine another collegiate live mascot program that is more ingrained in the fabric of its university and its state than Tusk is at this university and within Arkansas,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek said. “The Razorbacks proudly represent Arkansans throughout the state and the Tusk program is an integral part of carrying on that storied tradition. We are grateful to Keith and Julie Stokes and their entire family for their longtime care of our live mascots and for the countless hours they spend in supporting our teams, coaches and student-athletes. We look forward to Tusk IV’s final year and to 2019, when Tusk V will carry on this legacy for generations of Razorback fans to come.”
Tusk IV and V live on the Stokes Family Farm near Dardanelle, Arkansas. The work of caring for Tusk IV and V is shared between Keith and his wife Julie, their daughter Abbey, their son Chip and his wife Lori, and their four-year-old son (Keith and Julie’s grandson), Colt.
Tusk IV makes a two-hour trek up to Northwest Arkansas for every Razorback football game as well as select other Razorback athletics events throughout the year. Beloved by Razorback and opposing team fans of all ages, Tusk is always the center of attention when he makes an appearance at games or other special events. Through the years, he has traveled the state and throughout the region to appear at various locations including at bowl games, Razorback Clubs and even the Arkansas State Capitol.
Arkansas’ first live mascot, Tusk I was selected in 1997 and served as the Razorback mascot for eight years.
After spending four football seasons at the Little Rock Zoo, Tusk I was moved to the Tyson Foods Farm in Springdale in 2001. In 2002, Tusk I became the father to Tusk II. Tusk I passed away in 2004 and his son, Tusk II, was moved from the Tyson Farm to the Stokes Family Farm and served as the live mascot from 2005 until 2010.
Tusk III was the brother of Tusk II and both were second-generation Russian boars. Tusk III served for only one football season in 2010. Tusk IV is the son of Tusk II and took over as the official live mascot during the 2011 football season. He recently completed his seventh season.
In 2008, Razorback Athletics created the Tusk Fund to help provide financial assistance for the maintenance and upkeep of the live mascot program. Donations to the fund provide Tusk with improvements to his facilities and most of all, create a legacy program for guaranteeing the longevity of the Razorback live mascot program. Fans interested in supporting the Tusk Fund, can do so by clicking here.
The tradition of a live mascot predates the Tusk lineage, dating back to the 1960s with a series of hogs that have proudly represented Arkansas.