The Ringdocus or Beast or Shunka Warakin-Time for Tea by Celia Klassen

In 1886, a mysterious creature was on the loose in West Yellowstone, terrorizing the settlers there with its human-like cry and killing their stock and dogs. This creature would get the settlers out of bed at night with a cry ‘unlike anything you ever heard’ and people who heard it were said to have even shivered at the memory.
Israel Ammon Hutchins was one who was terrorized by ‘the beast’ and rose one night after hearing it but in trying to shoot it, shot one of his own cows instead. A while later he heard it again and this time his shot hit home.
Joseph Sherwood was a taxidermist and took Mr. Hutchins two cows in exchange for the remains of the creature. Sherwood owned a museum in Yellowstone and displayed the taxidermy mounted remains of the creature for many years. Upon the death of his son (also named Joseph Sherwood) and his sister Dewey, the family decided to donate the taxidermy and other artifacts to the Idaho State University Museum. These things were not put on display as the taxidermy process in those days included formaldehyde, so these things were kept in storage by the museum.
The Sherwood family was recently disturbed to find that the animal had been given away to a Jack Kirby under ‘the false pretense his family were the owners of the special animal’ according to Shirley Kawamura (daughter of Joseph Sherwood Jr.). The animal is now supposedly on loan from the Idaho Museum of Natural History in Pocatello to the Madison Valley Museum just outside of Ennis, MT. Joseph Sherwood Sr is the one who gave it the name ‘Ringdocus’.
But what is it? It seems there was never any suggestion that it was a wolf. All accounts of the creature through the Ennis valley and also in Native American legends in this area referred to it as ‘wolf-like’ but distinct enough that it would not be confused with one. The Native American’s called it “Shunka Warakin” which translates to ‘carrying off dogs’ because that is what they observed it doing. For a long time, all the public could see of this beast was a blurry black and white photograph of the taxidermy mount. Then the creature’s remains seemed to ‘appear’ at the other museum.
Cryptozoology is the study of, or search for, animals that do not have a credited existence, famous examples include the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti. So what was so strange about this creature? While it might bear some resemblance to a wolf, its back sloped down like a hyena, and it was very dark with vague stripes showing on its sides. For those more experienced with animals than I, the mouth is apparently not at all like the mouth of a wolf. So was it a one off? Accounts seem to suggest there were several spread out over a wide area, or at least several similar beings.
One student of natural history insists there is very little mystery as to what it is. It is simply a North American Hyena. North America no longer has a hyena, but in research it appears the brown hyena is very similar to this beast and could have lived in this area. It seems to be commonly agreed that it was a canid (member of the dog family) which does have a history of breeding with those other than its own specific. I have a canid sitting right next to me that is half Bernese mountain dog and half mini poodle, which does seem rather ridiculous when you think about it in natural terms! Others think the more recently ‘discovered’ taxidermy mount is a fake. That it has enough differences to suggest it is a wolf that was made to look like the original pictured in the black and white photograph.
So why don’t we DNA test it? One thing about taxidermy is it preserves the hair which could well undergo a DNA test. I don’t know how much hair is required to get an accurate result but I would think one or two hairs could be spared from the beast to put us all out of our misery! Others claim even an x-ray could tell a lot.
Skeptics say the museum doesn’t want to do these tests because if they remove the mystery then people won’t visit the museum; others say it will reveal it is a fake.
Look it up, what do you think it is? For me, the North American Hyena or a bizarre cross breed makes the most sense. Another option is that it was a disabled wolf whose back end was poorly formed!
There is very little mystery as to what the Ringdocus is. Any student of natural history could commit a little time to research and draw the very simple and rather obvious conclusion that this animal is none other than a North American Hyena. It has been so long since there have been Hyena seen outside of Africa that many will scoff but the Hyena have had ranges all the way into Asia and at least one species has been in North America since the late Miocene (maybe a little later but generally).
It’s a fake! No, I don’t mean the creature, I think there might be some truth to it (personally I think it’s chasmaporthetes[?]), and I think the mount in the black and white is genuine, I just don’t believe the recently rediscovered mount is it.
Ever since its discovery, I’ve looked at both pictures and couldn’t shake the feeling that there were some differences between them. In the original, it seemed bigger, with the neck and head slightly elevated, not leaning downward. The back in the colored photos is more arched, and not level towards the head and slanted towards the rear. The face in the original seems to have a lighter touch to it, with a mouth opened wider and a jaw that is at an odd angle, not at all like a wolf. Then there’s the googily eyes in the colored photos; really, cheap, plastic eyes?
But, I’d say the tell-tale sign it’s a fake is the “red tape” that sprung up all of a sudden; no one wants a DNA test done because they know its authenticity is dubious. Seriously, I don’t think museum curators are going to make that big of a fuss over obtaining DNA results from the hair of an animal that someone might assume was a wolf just by looking at it; you make them sound like a bunch of carnies, Coleman. If anything, I think they would want some kind of identification, so as they’d know what they’re getting.
The real mount, if it isn’t destroyed, is probably lost somewhere or stowed away in the back of some warehouse (ala, Indiana Jones [no pun]), and the one they have now is most likely a forgery that was based off of the original using a wolf’s skin that was dyed over to make it look convincing.

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