"Like the legendary Mandarin Duck, the origin of the Ramble's Eastern Cottontail is unknown," David Barrett, of Manhattan Bird Alert, tells me.

The rabbit, presumed to be the first of its kind in Central Park since 2006 (see update below), appeared sometime in February of this year, though it's possible it has been around longer. A wise, ancient spirit rabbit, perhaps? We're not ruling it out.

"It has been seen, rarely, in and around the Shakespeare Garden area," Barrett says, and it may not be alone. There was another sighting of an Eastern Cottontail with shorter ears. However, Barrett notes it's unclear if it's a different rabbit, since "rabbits can raise and lower their ears, which could make their height deceptive in photographs." He added that the two have never been spotted together, so we may have a Clark Kent/Superman situation on our hands here.

As for the origins, he says it's possible the rabbit hopped down from the Bronx — perhaps Inwood Hill Park, which has Eastern Cottontails — but adds, "That's a long way for a rabbit to go! And a rabbit probably would be reluctant to leave a woodsy area and cross nearly a mile of city streets."

That's quite a journey. Please pause for this moment of Zen:

A more likely origin story would be that a human dropped it off. Central Park is a fairly common dumping ground for pets (it's even possible the Mandarin Duck had been a pet).

"Our first suspicion in February seems overall more plausible," Barrett says, "that the rabbit was released in the park by a human. Maybe the rabbit was trapped elsewhere and released. Maybe it was sold or given away as a pet, then released by the owner. Many possibilities. We will never know for sure." But he says from what he's witnessed, the rabbit—which appears healthy and well fed—acts like a wild rabbit, not a pet, and "does not come to humans."

It also appears to have good survival skills, particularly "in a park where Red-tailed Hawks are always prowling."

It has been spotted in "the lawn immediately west of and down the stairs from Belvedere Castle," a favorite spot, as well as in Tupelo Meadow, which is in the Ramble and southeast of Belvedere Castle.

While Eastern Cottontails are a rare sighting in Central Park, they are the most common rabbit species in North America. And they are significantly cuter than the common street rat.

Now, in the tradition of Mandarin Patinkin, what shall we name it?

Update, 5 p.m.: Charisse Hill, Press Officer for NYC Parks, told Gothamist there have likely been Eastern Cottontails in Central Park this whole time. "As New Yorkers stay home, more opportunities to observe and appreciate wildlife in parks and right outside their windows increases. There’s a chance that this is the case in the recent sighting of an Eastern Cottontail in Central Park. Every now and then, Eastern Cottontails can be seen in parks munching on leafy green plants. They are native to New York City and are fairly common in Manhattan. While we do not track animal populations, we have no reason to believe that there’s been a gap in their presence in Central Park. Eastern Cottontails are generally shy animals and are most active at dusk. They also have a tendency to stay close to their dens which is why they’re not often seen."

They ask that "if you cross paths with wildlife in New York City, respect them the same way you would any other New Yorker, and give them plenty of space. If you see a wild animal, report the sighting to the WildlifeNYC website."