Written By: Ben Cosgrove
In November 1946, LIFE magazine introduced its readers to a pair of furry British acrobats named Junior and Mr. Walker — rabbits residing in Barking, outside of London. Asked why the two bunnies made their way through the world upended, padding about on their forefeet — instead of hopping on all fours, like virtually all other Leporidae — their owner, a butcher named Reginald Freeman, explained that they had been doing it since they were born.
“Mr. Walker, the elder rabbit,” LIFE wrote, “started off on his forefeet. Junior, a female, at first experimented with the more conventional four-legged method but after watching Mr. Walker for a while switched to his two-legged style.”
That’s all well and good. But still, why did they do it? Why did they act in this strange — albeit fascinating — un-rabbitlike manner?
“Mr. Freeman asked a veterinarian about all this,” the article concluded, “and was told the rabbits’ spinal muscles were underdeveloped and they walked on two legs because it was easier.”
Whether the critters’ spinal muscles were undeveloped because they moved through the world upside-down, or because both were born with underdeveloped back muscles (a highly unlikely coincidence), LIFE neglected to clarify.
Finally: It’s worth noting that the photographs of Mr. Walker and Junior (and Mr. Freeman, of course) were made by George Rodger, one the 20th century’s greatest photojournalists and a founding member of Magnum Photos. Which just goes to show — a good photographer really can shoot anything.