The Equine Etymology of Jungle Bunny

How laughably poor are the excuses made by Tory councillor Bob Frost for using the racist term ‘jungle bunny’ to describe London rioters?  The Telegraph quotes him:

‘Looking at the dictionary it would appear that the term jungle bunnies is pejorative and is a racist slur relating to African-Americans.

Needless to say I did not mean to use any offensive racist term and was referring to the urban jungle.’

He added: ‘As for the bunny bit it was originally “animals”, but I thought people might object to me calling fellow humans this so I chose something I thought was innocent and also cuddly.’

What a load of royal rollocks. According to the OED, it was first quoted as offensive Australian slang in the Sunday Times in 1973, and it clearly slipped easily into British vocabularies. In the 1970s, one of the UK’s top showjumpers, Lionel Dunning, even christened a new horse Jungle Bunny. At the time, showjumping was a hugely popular and much-televised sport, and Britain was lurking in something of a dark age of racial sensitivity (to put it mildly). I can’t imagine that a man of Mr Frost’s vintage had never come across the term before.

Anyhow, here’s the blameless horse in question, with Lionel in 1981:


EDITED TO ADD: thought we lived in more enlightened times? No. There’s a horse called “My Gollywog” on the show jumping circuit in New Zealand.

Published by Susanna Forrest

Writer Amazons of Paris, The Age of the Horse and If Wishes Were Horses.

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1 Comment

  1. I heard the term in the States well before it showed up in either Australia or Britain. It’s been around enough there that nobody’d even *think* of using it.

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