The Skunks’ Saga

In October 1955, a de-scented skunk was donated to the museum for use in educational children’s programs. Mrs. Bush, the museum director, held a contest at the first children’s program of the season to name the skunk. The Museum Advisory Board chose Holmes Ryan’s suggestion of Rosebud as the winner, and he was given a copy of The Golden Treasury of Natural History as his prize.

Rosebud lived in a cage on the museum yard, but she escaped in March 1956. A story and picture ran in the Press-Scimitar newspaper that Charley Scott found a tame skunk in his East Memphis backyard. When Raymond Gray, the superintendent of the Memphis Zoo, saw the skunk’s picture in the paper, he  said it was probably a pet and told Mrs. Bush about the animal. She went to Scott’s house to pick up Rosebud “by the scruff of the neck and head back to the museum.” Rosebud made a final escape a year later, but this time she was either killed by a dog or a car.

She was replaced by a male named Rosebuddy. He made his television debut in November 1956 on the WKNO programs “Just Before Bedtime” and “Fignewton.” He was a regular monthly visitor on the show, and the Museum’s children’s program of the month was advertised at the same time. He also made an appearance on “Know Your Government” where he shared the screen with Mrs. Bush and members of the Advisory Board.

When Rosebuddy died, he was replaced by a final Rosebud. Mrs. Bush noted that on one memorable occasion one of the skunks bit a child at a museum program, but the child’s mom elected not to cause any problems for the museum. The skunks also made visits to segregated science programs at LeMoyne College.



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