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‘No discussion’ of renaming Yellowknife’s Elon Muskox

Elon Muskox stands in Yellowknife's Somba K'e park in the summer of 2019
Elon Muskox stands in Yellowknife's Somba K'e park in the summer of 2019.

The City of Yellowknife says there is no plan to change the name of the 11-foot horticultural muskox stationed outside City Hall, known since 2018 as Elon Muskox.

The muskox was gifted to the Northwest Territories capital by Quebec, having originally appeared at a Canada 150 exhibition inside Gatineau’s Parc Jacques-Cartier in 2017.

Since its arrival, the muskox has become a fixture in downtown Yellowknife and an attraction for tourists. The animal’s head and body act as flowerbeds for an ever-changing variety of flora.

A contest to name the muskox was won by Florida resident Eric Fuhrmann the following year. Fuhrmann told Cabin Radio he had never been to Canada but saw the contest and decided to enter because Elon Muskox was “such an obvious name to me.”



“I hope that it brings a chuckle to people who see it,” he said at the time.

Four years later, mention of the name might bring more of an eye twitch.

Musk has spent most of the intervening period becoming a polarizing character, not only for his shifting political views but also the ruthless, apparently haphazard process by which he has governed social network Twitter since taking control of the company. Thousands of staff have been fired or quit, a move that some people familiar with Twitter say risks its ability to remain operational.

This week, Musk reinstated former US president Donald Trump access to Twitter, which Trump famously used as his primary mouthpiece while president. He was banned from Twitter after the January 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, an event for which Trump is widely considered partially responsible.



Critics of Musk’s decision to return Trump’s Twitter privileges included musician Jack White, who – writing on Instagram – told Musk the “asshole move” was “you trying to help a fascist have a platform so you can eventually get your tax breaks.”

Fans of Musk point to his achievements in driving innovation through companies like electric car manufacturer Tesla and space-based internet supplier Starlink. The Starlink internet service recently began rolling out in the NWT.

After the subject of Elon Muskox’s name was raised on Monday’s edition of Mornings at the Cabin, one listener said they had “long been irritated by the disgraceful name given to this creature.” Another called for a “super unproblematic name” to be introduced instead.

Suggestions include Umingmak, the animal’s Inuktitut name, and Murph, a nod to Yellowknife’s former Gerry Murphy Arena.

But Richard McIntosh, a city spokesperson, said on Monday there was so far no formal move to rename the monument.

“There has been no discussion yet,” McIntosh wrote in a brief statement by email, referring Cabin Radio to a news release issued four years ago when the name was chosen.

That news release states that Fuhrmann’s suggestion received only 123 out of 1,509 votes. However, with 300 name suggestions submitted, that was enough to win the contest and – perhaps indefinitely – associate Yellowknife’s muskox with one of the world’s richest and most divisive people.