What is the Missouri state animal?
by Patti Walden
The Missouri mule is the official animal of Missouri.
The Missouri state animal is the Missouri Mule. A bill designating Missouri's state animal was signed into law by Governor Mel Carnahan on May 31, 1995. Mules were introduced to Missouri in the 1820's and for decades Missouri was the nation's primary mule producer.
Missouri Mule gets the vote
It was an easy decision for the Missouri Legislature when it came to recognizing the Missouri Mule as the state animal. House Bill 84 was sponsored by Representative McBride. With 144 yes votes and 10 no votes, Missouri House Bill number 84 passed and was signed into law by Governor Carnahan.
The bill reads in part: The Missouri Mule, known for its strength, hardiness, intelligence and even temper, is selected for and shall be known as the official animal of the state of Missouri.
What is a Missouri Mule?
As all mules, Missouri mules are the offspring of female horses, known as mares, and male donkeys, known as jacks. In the early 1800's, Missouri farmers began purchasing and breeding the finest mares with the best jacks they could locate. These offspring mules developed a reputation as superior stock throughout the United States. By the early 1900's, Missouri's Lathrop County was supplying so many mules throughout the world that it was known as the Mule Capital of the World.
Missouri Mules in the early 1800s
The first mention of the jack-breeding stock in Missouri appeared in an issue of the "Missouri Intelligencer" on January 15, 1824. The development of the Santa Fe Trail with the connection to Mexico offered a great economic boom for Missouri mule breeders. With their mules hauling merchandise and carrying packs, Missouri became known for producing large numbers of mules. Missourians claimed to have greater experience in handling mules than other states, and the crisp sales of their mules seemed to bear that out.
Missouri Mules top production in U. S.
According the the agricultural history series at Missouri State University, the economic boom continued through the 1850s with wealth brought to the state of Missouri through successful breeding and trading of mules. Demand for mules increased even more with improved cotton production methods because the Missouri mule had proven to be the most practical for the strenuous work. The mule industry took a huge economic dive during the Civil War, but later regained its position as the top mule breeding state. Between 1870 and 1900, Missouri was ranked the number one producer of mules in the United States.
Missouri Mule achieves international fame
In 1898, the Guyton and Harrington Company, located in Lathrop, Missouri, began selling mules to the British government for the Boer War in South Africa. They supplied the British with 115,000 Missouri Mules . Later they supplied pack mules to the Indian government. The British government then contracted with Guyton and Harrington to provide mules for the World War I effort. It was estimated that this company supplied about 350,000 mules and horses during WWI, making Lathrop County the Mule Capital of the World.